Dayton Moore, an executive with the Kansas City Royals since 2006, was fired on Wednesday.
This front office move comes as the Royals are in their sixth consecutive season below .500, owning a 59-89 record in the American League Central entering play Wednesday.
Team owner John Sherman announced the move at a news conference, where Moore did speak about the situation before leaving.
“I think the objective is clear: It’s to compete again for championships, and we have to make sure we’re progressing toward that goal,” said Sherman, who bought the club from David Glass in 2019 while keeping Moore as general manager before making him president of baseball operations in 2022.
“In 2022 we regressed, and that happens. It happens to great teams. But as I started talking to Dayton and others, I felt like we needed more change than was talked about, and that was a big reason to make this one.”
J.J. Picollo, who Sherman brought in as GM this season, will assume the role as head of baseball operations now. He was the first person that Moore hired since he took over as GM in 2006, but the dynamic never truly worked out.
“I’ve known J.J. since he was 21 years old,” Moore noted in his short speech. “He’s an incredible leader, and as I’ve mentioned before, he’s more than prepared to lead the baseball operations department in a very innovative and productive way.”
Moore’s impact on the Royals is undeniable. He took over in 2006 and the team finished that year with their third straight 100-loss season. Slowly but surely, Moore and his team trusted the process of acquiring young talent and developing it.
The Royals took their time to rise as World Series contenders but made the best of it in 2015 when they went on a run to defeat the New York Mets in five games.
Moore and his team can be credited for finding talent like Salvador Perez, who is still on the team, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Whit Merrifield and most recently, Bobby Witt Jr.
“He’s a great guy, a great person,” Perez said. “It’s hard you know? I never thought that he was going to leave this organization.”
What Moore consistently dealt with was a small-market budget, much like other clubs around the league. When players like Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas reached the peak of their play, he had to make the decision to let them go and get their lucrative deals in free agency.
Moore’s drafting wasn’t the best either, which is why they haven’t found that spark like they did leading into 2015. At the end of the day, without the big budget of teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, Mets and New York Yankees, the Royals have to compete by drafting well and developing young talent. The Tampa Bay Rays are a prime example of doing things that way with success.
That’s going to be Picollo’s objective now, while Moore awaits a new opportunity in MLB.
“There is a gap right now between where we are and where we expected,” Sherman said. “I felt like in 2021 we did make progress, and in 2022, that’s not how I feel.”