KANSAS CITY -- Royals owner David Glass says he's willing to increase payroll if it benefits the club long-term.
With the Winter Meetings approaching next week, the Royals are looking for starting pitchers to bolster a rotation that already has added Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie this offseason.
There's been speculation that the Royals have interest in Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields and Boston left-hander Jon Lester, but both would come at a considerable cost and with sizable salaries.
"If you did that, you could always compensate for it in other ways," Glass said. "The real question is if you trade for someone like that, what do you have to give up? And our whole approach is we certainly have players in our farm system that we can trade. But you certainly don't want a short-term [addition] that damages your future. I'm not interested that much in us being competitive for one year. I don't want to shoot craps for one year and mortgage the future for us to do it. I want us to be competitive every year and continue to get better."
In Shields' case, he'll make $9 million in 2013 with a club option for $12 million in 2014. Lester is set to earn $11.625 million in 2013 with a club option for $13 million in 2014. After that, each of them could become a free agent.
So the question becomes: To get a top-quality pitcher for two years, do you want to sacrifice a top Minor Leaguer that you could control for six years? The Royals' top prospect is right-handed slugger Wil Myers. Glass can see both sides of what his general manager, Dayton Moore, must consider.
"You would really hate to see Wil Myers traded," Glass said. "One of the scarcest commodities in all of baseball is a right-handed bat that hits for power, and that's what he is.
"At the same time, you know if you're going to get something good, you're going to have to give up something good. If we're going to trade somebody, I'd much rather see us trade somebody out of our Minor League system than somebody off the Major League team. So I'd hate to see Wil Myers go, but at the same time, if Dayton came to me and recommended that -- and said this is going to make us better, not just for this year but for the future, well, then I'd have to support whatever he wants to do."
The Royals' payroll currently is approaching an estimated $70 million, which is the general level that Glass has given Moore for next season, up from last season's approximate $64 million. But Glass indicated he can be flexible.
"What we've said is we need to be in the $70 million range to break even, and our goal is to try to continue to break even," Glass said. "We're not interested in making money, but we don't want to subsidize it to any great extent.
"Except I've said that if we have an opportunity to win our division or be competitive, we were certainly willing to step up and do whatever it took to take advantage of the opportunity."
Glass said the $70 million was a "soft" budget.
"If you're going to spend more money, the obvious question is what are you going to get for it? Is there something out there that's worthwhile?" Glass said. "But it's not a hard-and-fast deal. It depends on what is available to us."
When it comes to starting pitching, Glass mentioned that before the season is over he expects to see results from three pitchers who have undergone Tommy John elbow surgery -- last year's starters Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino and prospect John Lamb.
"The thing that people are overlooking is that before this year is over, we're going to have significant influx of our own people," Glass said. "You're going to get Duffy back, Paulino back. You're going to have John Lamb -- I really like him, I think he has great potential. [Jake] Odorizzi is close. This kid [Yordano] Ventura will come quickly. You've got [Kyle] Zimmer, who I think will progress through the system very rapidly. So actually, starting at mid-year, you'll be able to see an influx of starting pitching coming out of our people off the disabled list and up through the system. So it speaks well for our future."
Glass says he's comfortable with the Royals' regular lineup as it's shaping up and is optimistic about next season.
"I was optimistic last season and I was disappointed," he said. "We've got a better team than our record indicated. But I can't even imagine next year starting out early in the season and losing 12 games in a row, or some of the things like that that happened to us. Some of the young players continued to mature.
"You've got to look at [Billy] Butler and [Alex] Gordon and say they've grown into veteran Major League players even though they are young. [Alcides] Escobar I would rank with any shortstop in the American League. [Salvador] Perez is a future All-Star catcher. And with [Mike] Moustakas and [Eric] Hosmer, you've got pieces in place that will be better next year, so right now I'm very optimistic and excited about it. And with whatever more Dayton can do to improve the team, I'll even be more excited about it."
Glass would just as soon see those players remain in Kansas City.
"We've got a really good young bunch that I would hate to see broken up," he said. "I'm really comfortable with our bullpen, which I consider to be one of the best in the American League. Our deficiency has been in starting pitching. I think he's made some inroads with Santana and re-signing Guthrie, but one more starter, obviously, would be beneficial. But then the question is, who do you get that would really add to the equation and then what do you have to give up to get him?"
The Winter Meetings might provide the answer.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.