Will Yost be back in ’14? Strong September likely means yes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As most Royals fans know, manager Ned Yost’s contract expires after this season.
And as The Kansas City Star reported last week, Royals general manager Dayton Moore isn’t about to negotiate or extend Yost’s contract now while the Royals are in the midst of a playoff chase.
Moore reiterated those thoughts to me Tuesday: “Right now our focus is on winning games. I’ve known Ned for many, many years and we’ve always had a very strong relationship, a trusting relationship. The focus is as it should be — winning games right now.”
Would there be any reason to believe Yost won’t be back in 2014?
“There is nothing I can say about that right now,” Moore said. “Our focus is just on winning right now.
“We both know what the emphasis is. It’s all about the team and the players and what we can do together to help us win. Anything beyond that is a distraction.”
You may think that quote is missing something — a public vote of confidence for Yost in 2014 — and therefore that Yost’s future with the Royals is in jeopardy.
No, not necessarily.
Moore has been a consistent supporter and defender of Yost since he hired him to replace Trey Hillman in May 2010. Yost signed a two-year extension in July of that year with an option for 2013.
Moore and the Royals exercised that option just before spring training in 2012.
And all during that time, Moore has not wavered in his support of Yost.
“Ned is a very knowledgeable baseball man,” Moore said. “He’s a very consistent leader. He’s very positive about the players and very positive about the future. He’s done a terrific job.”
But there is much more at stake now in terms of the Royals’ choice for a manager going forward: Moore’s own contract expires after 2014, and Royals ownership needs to be convinced the organization is clearly on the right track.
A strong September finish to 2013 — whether the Royals makes the playoffs or not — and a playoff appearance next season certainly would persuade ownership to keep the regime intact.
And in that regard, the guess here — and it is just a guess — is that if the Royals continue to play solid baseball over these last 24 games, Yost will be back in 2014 for the all-all-all-in season.
The reason is that Moore firmly believes Yost is a good fit in terms of developing younger players and then expecting those young players to perform and win.
“He’s always demonstrated an ability to do that,” Moore said. “And we’re always going to be a team with young guys being worked in. Young players are what we’re about, so we need a manager and a coaching staff that understands that and appreciates that.
“Some managers just want veteran players. Ned isn’t like that.”
Yost has indicated that the lack of an extension isn’t on his mind, especially now with the team fighting for a wild-card spot.
“Ned’s focus is where it should be,” Moore said. “And our focus together is where it should be, on the present. The other stuff can be taken care of at the appropriate time.”

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.