Royals Pick up 2013 Option on Yost: Why it Means Big Expectations for 2012


The Royals showed some love to manager Ned Yost on Tuesday when they announced that they’ve picked up Yost’s contract option for 2013.

Now, before you go into hysterics over the announcement (one way or the other), keep in mind that the move is a common one for manager’s entering the final year of the contract. The generally regurgitated narrative is that a manager cannot exert sufficient control or discipline over his players while his own contract status is up in the air. The argument makes some sense, especially considering that some star players make ten times the annual salary of their manager. If a manager does not have a commitment beyond the current season, then he is essentially on the hot seat.

The scenario is akin to an impending free agent. With no commitment from his current team, that player is usually in full “me” mode, out to prove their worth to every other team in the league during their walk year. Likewise, when a manager operates without that security blanket, it is easy for them to lose focus of the long haul and adopt a win-now philosophy in a desperate attempt to either earn an extension or spruce up their attractiveness to rival clubs.

If you don’t believe me, just ask Jim Riggleman, who quit mid-season in 2011 because he wasn’t under contract for 2012.

So Ned Yost got his security blanket today. But that thin veil of security should not be mistaken for a ringing endorsement. Without a mid-season extension, he will be right back in the same position next off-season.

The Royals front office clearly wants to see what Yost will do with a full season of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Johnny Giavotella, and the rest of Kansas City’s much-publicized youthful core. 2010 and 2011 were simply preparation for this season, when Dayton Moore and Co. expect tangible improvement, i.e., a boost in the standings.

2012 is a test. Moore could have eliminated the option and given Yost a contract extension, ensuring his continued employment for years to come. But he( justifiably) didn’t.

I know it’s hard to think of Yost being on the hot seat on the day that his option was exercised. But that is exactly where he will be if this 2012 season does not end as magically as we all hope it will.

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