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Royals' future is bright

The Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar (2) celebrates

The Kansas City Royals' Alcides Escobar (2) celebrates with Mike Moustakas (8) and Eric Hosmer (35) after scoring on a hit by Lorenzo Cain during the second inning of Game 6 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. Photo Credit: AP / Jeff Roberson

Don't expect another 29-year drought between playoff appearances for the Royals.

Their manager, who earned his share of headlines this postseason with his sometimes blunt remarks, certainly doesn't anticipate it.

"We've got a really good young core of players,'' Ned Yost said before his club's 3-2 loss to the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night. "And I think we're going to be good for years to come.''

It is always dangerous to make those kinds of assumptions, but on the surface, the Royals do look like a team whose contending window is just opening.

There will be defections, of course, as there are every offseason for big- and small-market teams alike.

For a small-market outfit like the Royals, the decisions are even more difficult. They are all but certain to lose free-agent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, both of whom are likely to command big contracts on the open market, as well as designated hitter Billy Butler.

The loss of Shields and Davis will be especially challenging to overcome. Shields, 32, has been among the most durable starters in the big leagues and has thrown at least 200 innings each of the last eight seasons, including 2491/3, 2272/3, 2282/3 and 227 the last four years. Davis was brilliant as Greg Holland's setup man.

But there is plenty of young talent under control -- emerging stars such as first baseman Eric Hosmer (24), catcher Salvador Perez (24), shortstop Alcides Escobar (27) and outfielder Lorenzo Cain (28). And there would seem to be an abundance of pitching with Holland (28), seventh-inning specialist Kelvin Herrera (24), rookie phenom Brandon Finnegan (21) and returning starters Yordano Ventura (23) and Danny Duffy (25).

"It's the only thing that these players will think about, getting back to this stage,'' general manager Dayton Moore told reporters after Game 7. "Because of that, it's going to serve them well going forward. Once you've tasted the playoffs and then the World Series and a Game 7, the only thing that motivates you is getting back on that platform.''

Yost said his team cleared an important hurdle to prolonged success.

"With this postseason experience, they got over the hump,'' he said. "Last year at the end of the year , I'm like, 'OK, I hope they got over the hump.' There is no hoping anymore. I mean, you know these guys have gotten over the hump.

"They're still very, very hungry. It's a very dejected group in there right now. They didn't accomplish their goal. They know how close they came, and they're going to want to taste it again.''


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