The 2016 baseball season is finally over, which means the off-season is now upon us. The Royals will have several key decisions to make, first and foremost, how much money they can spend this winter. They also have potential free agents to deal with in Kendrys Morales, Edinson Volquez, Drew Butera, and Peter Moylan, as well as whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. They may also want to bring in players from outside the organization, whether it be through trades or free agency, to fill in needs such as second base, outfield, designated hitter, starting rotation, or the bullpen.
There are still 150 days until the Royals open the 2017 season in Minnesota, giving Dayton Moore plenty of time to improve the club. But typically, Dayton Moore has not taken that long to add players to the roster. The conventional wisdom is that Moore moves quickly, for better or for worse. I wanted to see whether that was true, so I took all his significant off-season transactions over the last ten years, and see how quickly into the off-season they were taken. I defined “significant transaction” as any Major League free agent contract, or any trade of a Major League player executed from the end of the World Series until Opening Day. You can see when each transaction was executed in comparison to the conclusion of that year’s World Series.
Blue signifies free agents, red signifies trades.
Dayton Moore’s transactions were executed an average of 51.8 days after the World Series, which makes sense, since that is typically around the time of the Winter Meetings, when most transactions take place. The median number of days was 47. He typically struck quicker on trades than in free agency. Trades were done, on average, 47.4 days after the World Series, while free agents were, on average, 54 days after the World Series.
The data for the trades is a bit skewed, however, since the team executed a few trades in spring training, when rosters were being shuffled due to injuries. If you exclude those, you can see that Dayton Moore’s trades come exclusively before mid-December. This is pretty much the norm for baseball, as business reaches an apex at the Winter Meetings and slows down after the start of the new year. If you exclude the spring training deals, Dayton Moore’s trades were done, on average, 29 days after the World Series, with 10 of the 15 non-spring training trades executed in the first ten days of the conclusion of the World Series.
The free agency market is a bit slower to move as agents like to draw out the process to get the deal they like. Even then, just 10 of the 37 free agents Dayton Moore has signed came after the start of the calendar year, although he did notably sign Alex Gordon and Ian Kennedy earlier this January.
Dayton Moore has been criticized at times for moving too quickly on the market. Being a fast mover has the advantages of certainty, of getting certain players you want. It has the disadvantage of negotiating against yourself, not letting the market play out and potentially overpaying on a player where there may actually be a weak market.
We will see if Dayton continues to be an early riser and whether that strategy will pay off for the Royals. But we can probably count on not having to wait very long before seeing what Dayton Moore has in mind to get this team back into the playoffs for 2017.