You might think Dayton Moore has been taking plenty of naps with how sleepy this off-season has been for the Royals thus far. The only significant transaction for the Royals so far was the acquisition of Jorge Soler from the Cubs for pitcher Wade Davis. But Moore appeared on Fescoe in the Morning on 610 KCSP yesterday to insist he has been very busy this winter, planning for next year’s club as well as looking for the future.
“When you look at our team, we’ve got a lot of holes potentially in 2018.”
Dayton says the organization had some players that might have helped in 2018 but have gotten injured, while others have not lived up to their potential. He says even if some reach the big leagues, it may be 2-to-4 years before they become solid Major League contributors.
One young player he is looking to contribute quickly is Jorge Soler, who he says they talked about with Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer before the season was even over.
“Hoyer said hoping to trade him after he hit 35 home runs and his value would be really really high.”
Moore says they stressed the need to get Major League players in return for Wade Davis, just as they did when they received Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain in exchange for Zack Greinke. The deal for Soler at one point involved several players on both sides, but that just further complicated things.
Another complication was the health of Wade Davis, who was on the disabled list twice last year with forearm issues. The Cubs wanted him to take a physical exam in Chicago, but Davis had just returned from a trip in Hawaii. With the deal so time sensitive with other teams making offers, the Cubs were able to be satisfied with the medicals and make a deal.
Dayton talked a bit about the process of making a deal. He says he tries to be upfront and transparent with clubs he’s dealing with, even if he has other offers, saying “we’ll tell other teams who the players are so they can measure the acquisition costs. That makes it very simple. A few other GMs do it that way. You put your cards on the table, sometimes you get burnt...but for the most part it works out.”
He is looking to improve the team for next year, but also beyond, but knows that having just one-year of control left for much of his team puts the team in a bit of a bind.
“The control of a player in today’s market, today’s economics is everything.”
Dayton talked with host Bob Fescoe a lot about some of his past deals, such as the big trade of Zack Greinke back in 2010. The Royals had a deal done with the Washington Nationals, but they wanted to work out a long-term deal with Greinke. Zack flew out to Washington, but a deal could not be done. Milwaukee was also offering an attractive package, but Greinke balked at going to Milwaukee. It took several conversations for Moore to convince Zack that the Brewers were a serious contender and would be a good fit. Finally, Greinke agreed to the deal, and the rest is history.
Moore laughed about his memories of Greinke, saying he was an interesting person, with thoughtful opinions on player personnel decisions, and was very upfront with Moore, telling him once “you’re having a terrible off-season.”
Moore admitted losing sleep on some deals, particularly trading away prospects like top prospect Wil Myers in the deal that netted James Shields and Wade Davis. A majority of the organization, including owner David Glass, did not want to pull the trigger on that deal, and even Dayton Moore had his doubts. Ultimately, he was able to convince everyone it was in the club’s interest.
“Every deal we’ve ever made, every player we’ve ever acquired, I’ve never felt 100% this is the absolute perfect thing for our baseball team. You often don’t know if you’ve ever made the right decision for 3-4 years in the future.”
The Royals made a pair of big trades in 2015, acquiring Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto for their pennant push, but Moore said everything just fell into place perfectly for those deals, even admitting they would have given up more to get those players. He was willing to pay a high price because of the great importance of pitching and leadoff hitters, even though he knew the players traded away could hurt the system. Moore recounts Assistant General Manager Rene Francisco telling him, “if we don’t make this deal for Ben Zobrist, we won’t go deep in the playoffs. But be prepared for Sean Manaea to stick it up our tail in a couple of years.”
Moore sat for an hour of questions, both serious and light-hearted, covering topics from the time David Glass questioned Ned Yost defending his players getting in brawls to Danny Duffy contract talks (nothing doing at the moment), to whether he eats ketchup on his hot dog (he does). Moore was pretty tight-lipped on what the Royals plans are for this off-season, but it was a fairly interesting discussion on how a General Manager operates, and how the process is trusted.