KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -The Kansas City Royals asked Trey Hillman to be their next manager and might announce the hiring Friday, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The team and Hillman were working out final contract details, said the two people, who requested anonymity because an announcement had not been made.
Hillman would replace Buddy Bell, who completed the year after saying in August he would step aside. The Royals finished 69-93, last in the AL Central for the fourth straight year.
The hiring would be the first major decision by Dayton Moore since he became general manager in June 2006.
The Kansas City Star first reported the development.
Hillman has spent the past five years managing in the Japanese Pacific League. He has never played or managed in the majors. He managed for 12 years in the New York Yankees' minor league system. He won three manager of the year awards while directing clubs to three first-place finishes.
The 44-year-old Texan, a former shortstop at the University of Texas-Arlington, interviewed for the Texas Rangers' managing job in 2002 and was appointed director of player development for the Rangers that year.
The following year he became manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters, who won their first Japan Series title in 2006 and advanced to the Japan World Series again this week.
Hillman inherits a Royals club that appeared last season to be making strides toward becoming respectable for the first time since the early 1990s. The Royals avoided 100 losses this season for the first time in three years and have not made a postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series.
The team's hope for a brighter future is founded on the development of a number of talented young players, including third baseman Alex Gordon and right-handers Zack Greinke and Brian Bannister.
Between a seven-game losing streak at the end of May and a seven-game losing streak at the beginning of September, the Royals were 43-40, their best stretch for an extended stretch since 2003.
In addition, right-hander Gil Meche signed a $55 million free agent contract with the Royals last year that appeared to signal a shift in owner David Glass's tightfisted ways. Meche finished 9-13 but with an ERA of 3.67. The Royals are expected to be active again this winter in the free-agent market.

Recent MLB Discussions

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Braves vs. Mets Prediction Will tonight's Braves and Mets game be high-scoring for bettors when the NL East rivals clash at 7:10PM ET?
Thumbnail Rays vs. Orioles Prediction Will the Orioles pick up another win tonight when they host the Rays at 7:05PM ET?
Thumbnail Cubs vs. Pirates Prediction After combing for 17 runs last night, will the over cash again when the Pirates host the Cubs tonight at 7:05PM ET?
Thumbnail Astros vs. Indians Pick Will the Houston Astros ride their ace to a big win on the road against the Cleveland Indians today at 6:10PM ET?
Thumbnail Dodgers vs. Giants Prediction Will tonight's Dodgers and Giants game be low-scoring for bettors when the NL West rivals clash at 10:15PM ET?

MLB Team Pages