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Winter meetings notebook: Royals still searching for ways to add impact free agent

LAS VEGAS | The idea of the Royals taking a run at a major free-agent signing isn’t quite dead yet.

General manager Dayton Moore concedes such a move would require the club to shed some payroll, which is already projected at roughly $70 million, but declines to rule out the possibility.

“We’re trying to do is weigh different scenarios to free up some financial flexibility to do some things,” he said. “It’s just so early in the process. There are ways to add a marquee free agent, but we would have to do something else.

“We would have to move a player or a couple of players to free up some money — and then get creative on the back end of a contract.”

The Royals, as they search this week for bullpen help, continue to check the market on free-agent infielders such as shortstop Rafael Furcal and second baseman Orlando Hudson.

Signing either would likely require the Royals to trade outfielder José Guillen, who is under contract for $24 million over the next two years. That could be a tough sell in a free-agent market stocked with outfielders.

The club’s only other player under contract for more than $5.75 million next season is pitcher Gil Meche, who is guaranteed $35 million over the next three years. The Royals have little interest in trading Meche even if he agrees to waive his no-trade clause.

Other clubs confirm the Royals are open to trading Guillen, who batted .264 last season while leading the club with 20 homers and 97 RBIs. Any such deal would also create space for Mark Teahen to remain in the outfield and unclog the crowded competition at first base.

The Royals’ overloaded outfield prompted club officials to dismiss reports of interest in free-agent Milton Bradley, although that could change, possibly, if Guillen is traded.

“We’ll look at everything,” Moore said. “I feel like our team is in a better position to win today than it has been in the previous two years. You gauge it and measure it with your division.

“Our division is very competitive. I think it’s tight. I’m not going to concede anything for our team because I think we’re better.”

Furcal, 31, recently rejected a four-year offer believed to be roughly $32 million from the Oakland A’s. Hudson, who turns 31 on Friday, is a first-time free agent who made $6.25 million last season in Arizona.

The Royals have long had both players on their wish lists. The club would shift shortstop Mike Aviles to second base if they sign Furcal.

Ex-Royals manager elected to Hall

Joe Gordon, the first manager in Royals history, was the sole nominee elected Monday by the Veterans Committee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Gordon was a nine-time All-Star in an 11-year career with the Yankees and Indians from 1938-50. He managed the Royals to a 69-93 record in 1969.

Two committees considered 20 nominees.

A 12-member committee considered 10 players whose career began prior to 1943. The entire 64 living members of the Hall of Fame voted on 10 nominees from the post-1943 era.

Nominees required support of 75 percent of ballots cast: nine of 12 votes on the pre-1943 ballot; 48 of 64 on the post-1943 ballot.

Gordon received 10 votes on the pre-1943 ballot. Pitcher Allie Reynolds missed by one vote. Third baseman Ron Santo was the top finisher on the post-1943 ballot but fell far short with just 39 votes.

The Veterans Committee meets every two years to consider players overlooked by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Grudzielanek attracts interest

Veteran second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who rejected the Royals’ offer of arbitration just before Sunday’s deadline, is drawing some interest from Arizona and San Diego.

The Diamondbacks meet Grudzielanek’s desire to sign with a contender, but San Diego, which lost 99 games last season, would offer the attraction of playing near his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Tigers acquire Laird, sign Everett

The Detroit Tigers filled two of their primary needs by reaching agreement with shortstop Adam Everett on a one-year deal and acquiring catcher Gerald Laird in a trade with Texas.

Everett, 31, is an eight-year veteran who batted .213 last season in 48 games for the Twins. The deal is believed to be worth about $1 million and include performance bonuses.

The Tigers dug into their depleted farm system for two pitching prospects to obtain Laird, who batted .276 last season with six homers and 41 RBIs in 95 games. Laird, 29, has a .255 average in 374 games over the last six seasons for Texas with 25 homers and 134 RBIs.

“There was no doubt we had a need there at catcher,” Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “He is a good, all-round player defensively and can contribute offensively. He fits one of our biggest needs.”

The Rangers received right-handers Guillermo Moscoso and Carlos Melo.

Moscoso, 25, was 5-4 with a 2.70 ERA last season in 21 games at Class A Lakeland and Class AA Erie. Melo, 17, was 3-3 with a 5.14 ERA last season in 14 games in the Dominican Summer League.

The Tigers traded away several top prospects last December in trades to acquire Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from Florida and Edgar Renteria from Atlanta.

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