GM Moore discusses KC's plans at FanFest forum
Outfield prospect Myers a hot topic as general manager fields fans' questions
KANSAS CITY -- The question had to be coming at what was billed as the Royals Forum on the All-Star FanFest floor at the Kansas City Convention Center: When will hot outfield prospect Wil Myers be in the lineup in Kansas City?
Specifically, the fan asking the question of Royals general manager Dayton Moore wanted to know if the club would just keep Myers in KC, since he was already here to play in Sunday's Futures Game?
"Wil's very, very close obviously," Moore said. "That's one of things that we spend every day evaluating -- when is the best time to transition young players to the Major Leagues? I'd rather be a month or two late, than a month or two early. ... We want it to happen sooner than later as well because the more at-bats he gets, the more he's going to blend in in 2014 and '15 and be that productive player that we need him to be. And history tells us that it takes two to four years of playing every day at the Major League level to become a consistent producer."
That said, Moore told the fans assembled for the forum at the Under Armour House of Performance that Myers would be playing in the Triple-A All-Star Game and then return to playing center field at Omaha. No callup just yet. Nor, for that matter, is anything imminent for promising pitcher Jake Odorizzi, another Futures Game performer.
There was also interest in outfielder Bubba Starling, the Royals' top Draft choice in 2011 who has just started his pro career after getting over a hamstring injury. Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo, who appeared with Moore, fielded the question from moderator Bob Fescoe of 610 Radio.
"He's doing very well. He's played nine games now, he's hitting right at .300 with a few extra-base hits," Picollo said. "He's moving well, most importantly right now he's healthy and playing every day and has made some tremendous strides in just a couple months."
The July 31 Trade Deadline is approaching and Moore acknowledged that the Royals' most pressing need is starting pitching but he noted that maybe 25 other clubs have the same need. If the need cannot be met via trade this summer, the free agent market beckons next winter.
"We've got to be very good at developing our own talent, got to be astute at making deals that make sense and we also have to be aggressive through free agency if we're going to get to where we need to be and I'm confident that, in the next one to three years, we're going to have the opportunity to spend some money on a front-line pitcher that will actually be of some impact for us," Moore said.
While right fielder Jeff Francoeur -- given Myers' availability -- is sometimes mentioned as a trade possibility, so is closer Jonathan Broxton who is coming up on free agency in the offseason. Given that, Moore said the Royals would have to listen to trade offers.
"Broxton is somebody who is proven, he's been on All-Star teams in the past, he's having a terrific season for us, he's very poised, he's tough, he's used to pitching under pressure," Moore said. "We just have to evaluate it and whoever brings the best deal is what you have to consider. If it's not a deal that makes sense for us ... you keep him and potentially look at keeping him long term as well."
Even though the Royals finished the first half 9 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central, Moore cautioned that the Royals wouldn't be selling off their talent in the trade market.
"I don't like the term 'sellers,' " Moore said. "We're never going to be sellers. ... I don't look for us to trade away our young, core group because that's not who we are. We're going to continue to focus on homegrown talent, developing our own and have a group of players grow up together and win together and take pride in each other."
A fan wanted to know if the Royals might have a chance to re-sign pitcher Zack Greinke, another potential free agent, or if too many bridges had been burned. Moore was cautious about his remarks because Greinke is under contract, of course, with the Brewers.
"We're really proud of what we accomplished together with Zack," Moore said, referring to Greinke's departure from baseball to deal with social anxiety issues. "We didn't know whether he was ever going to pitch again and it's really a great celebration for our organization for him to get to the level that he did and win a Cy Young for our team, our fans and our city. It was a very special accomplishment. I know Zack holds that near and dear and we all hold that near and dear ... and we're hoping to bring any player into our team that can help us win."
On other points, Moore noted:
He expected that center fielder Lorenzo Cain, out since the fifth game of the season, will return to the Royals right after the All-Star break.
The Royals have signed left-handed pitcher Austin Fairchild, their 16th-round Draft choice from St. Thomas High School in Houston. That leaves just nine of the 40 KC selections unsigned.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.