Royals stay course, ink Yost to two-year extension
Kansas City had its first winning season since 2003, most victories since 1989
KANSAS CITY -- Ned Yost, after guiding the Royals to their best record in 24 years, was rewarded on Tuesday with a two-year contract extension through the 2015 season.
The announcement came two days after the Royals finished 10 games above .500 at 86-76 and less than a week after their late-season push for a postseason berth ended.
"The continuity aspect of what we're doing here in Kansas City is crucial," general manager Dayton Moore said. "That's what we've tried to build and we don't want a change for change sake in our key leadership positions. Ned is a terrific leader, he's a great competitor, the players play hard and respect Ned. He comes to win."
The re-hiring was a foregone conclusion after Moore said last Wednesday in Seattle that he wanted Yost back.
"I think we've made great progress this year and I'm very excited about our future," Yost said.
Yost thanked owner David Glass, team president Dan Glass, Moore and the players for their support.
"Our main goal is to win the World Series, but we took a major step this year -- finished 10 games over .500. That was huge for us. That was a big first step," Yost said.
It's unusual for a field manager's contract to run longer than that of the general manager and Moore's deal is done after 2014. Isn't it?
"That's what's reported, yes," Moore said with a smile.
Moore wouldn't go beyond that.
"My comfort level with Dan and Mr. Glass has always been very secure and they've been supportive with what we've tried to do and I can't thank them enough," Moore said.
At any rate, there was a positive aura at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday as Yost and Moore met with Kansas City media. After all, the club had the franchise's best record since the 92-70 team in 1989. This was just the second time since the strike year of 1994 that the Royals were above the break-even point -- they went 83-79 in 2003.
Yost's team won 42 games after the All-Star break, most in the American League, and was in the hunt for the AL's second Wild Card spot down the stretch.
Yost took over as manager on May 13, 2010, succeeding Trey Hillman. In his four seasons, his teams have a 284-329 record. Including six years as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, Yost stands 741-831 in 10 seasons.
During a 40-minute give-and-take with reporters, Moore and Yost touched on several topics, among them:
Player personnel: "When I look at our roster, I believe that all our players that are signed long-term or that are under control are all going to get better. That's a comforting feeling," Moore said.
"We want to keep our pitching very, very strong. We want to make sure our excellent defense remains excellent and certainly our offense will continue to get better. History shows that these types of players with these types of production at the experience level they have will improve. And we'll look to add to it when we can."
Free agents: Pitcher Ervin Santana is a pending free agent and Moore said he has had talks with Santana and his agent about staying with the Royals.
"We'll keep an open mind and just try to stay in contact this offseason. It's a very small pool of players that can do what Ervin does and are available. We'll just stay open minded and see how it plays out," Moore said.
The same holds true with pitcher Bruce Chen, who is also headed for free agency.
Pitching options: If Santana and Chen leave, the Royals do have a pool of up-and-coming young starting pitchers such as Danny Duffy, Will Smith, Yordano Ventura, Chris Dwyer and Kyle Zimmer.
"Bright future, a lot of ability, no questions about it. To expect 200-plus innings out of one of those guys or all of those guys is probably a pretty tall order at this time," Moore said. "Probably wouldn't want to go into the season with a lot of youth in the rotation to begin with. Possibly go with one of the guys and filter them in throughout the season."
Position players: While the regular lineup is pretty well set, Yost said the Royals would like to add another bat somewhere.
He also expressed support for third baseman Mike Moustakas, who'll take his quest to improve his hitting to winter ball.
"We feel very strongly that Mike Moustakas is going to be a very big part of us when we are winning. That's why we stuck with him for so long this year," Yost said. "We knew we had to get Mike through that stretch. He was the best option we had to win ballgames. With that being said, he needs to grow in his development, as all our guys do. We're confident that he's going to be able to do that."
Payroll: The team payroll was estimated at around $81 million this year, the highest ever. How about 2014?
"It'll probably be about the same. I'm not so concerned about the payroll, it's more about who the players are than the actual payroll. . ... I don't anticipate it going down, that's for sure," Moore said.
"It usually doesn't get cheaper to sign players, unfortunately. We'll look internally first, then look to make trades and then focus on the free-agent market. We're not an organization that is going to be excited to go real long term with older players."
Fan support: "For the first time in many, many years we have a group of fans at all different levels and phases of their life that love this baseball team," Moore said. "There's an emotion and there's an expectation and excitement around this group of players and, in a small way, I feel like we've won the World Series because we have captured a fan base that is excited."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.