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Dayton Moore stays mum about Atlanta job in end-of-the-year presser

Moore talks about the future of the team - but is he part of it?

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Dayton Moore met with the press in an end-of-the-year press conference to discuss the past year, the direction of the franchise, and his own future, which you can listen to at 810 WHB. Dayton has been rumored to be a prime target for the Atlanta Braves for their open General Manager job, but he insisted he has not been contacted about the opening. He reiterated that he felt it was unprofessional to comment more about the job and that he was “extremely passionate about leading”, not only as a General Manager, but as a member of this community. He also praised the Glass family for the opportunity, saying he could not think of anyone better to work for.

But when pressed by 810 WHB’s Danny Clinkscale on whether he could unequivocally say he would turn down the Braves job, Moore demurred.

“I get the connection there, because that’s where I started in this game. So it’s very natural for someone to ask that question...but again I don’t think it requires me to comment at this point or needs me to comment further.”

Perhaps coincidentally, Moore said he and his leadership team were headed to Atlanta for a few days for a retreat to the Martin Luther King Center.

Dayton may or may not be part of the Royals’ future, but he did talk about the future direction of the franchise. He seemed non-committal about whether the team would conduct a rebuild this winter, suggesting the market would dictate that.

“The challenging part is the financial aspect of it - how we make it all work. We won’t know for sure how that’s going to unfold until the free agent market begins.”

The Royals may be faced with limited financial flexibility due to their 2018 contractual obligations, although Sam Mellinger recently wrote that the team may try to move some players to open up resources for free agents like Eric Hosmer.

If that doesn’t work, Moore seemed open to a full rebuild.

“If it doesn’t work to the long-term success and plan of the team, we may be in a position where you refocus and adjust and look to build more long-term and take a step back and built it back up. So we may be faced with that as well.”

Moore also confirmed the club will re-assign Dale Sveum from hitting coach to bench coach, will have Mitch Maier serve as first base coach, and will bring back Mike Jirschele as third base coach. Pedro Grifol’s status is still unclear although Moore indicated they would like to keep him. Rusty Kuntz will still be with the organization in an “impactful” role, although Kuntz has wanted to cut back on his duties in the past few years. The team is currently looking at candidates for the pitching coach and hitting coach openings. The Royals will also be creating a position for “Quality Control Coach.”

Moore addressed the disappointments of the 2017 season, saying the team used to be able to “win in multiple ways” with the bullpen as their “carrying card”, but that the bullpen wore down this year and the starting rotation was a let-down.

Dayton seemed to indicate they thought about doing a rebuild last winter, but that what was offered wasn’t what the franchise needed, and that it made more sense to keep the players for one more year.

Moore talked up some promising players for next year, including Raúl Mondesí, Jorge Soler, and even saying Jorge Bonifacio could become a .300 hitter along the lines of Moises Alou. He praised the 2017 draft class as being part of the organizational culture and full of talent, particularly speed. Moore was asked if he had to shift gears in developing players in the wake of baseball’s home run spike.

"Power production generally comes later in a player's career....You’ll draft or sign ten guys with plus-plus power and you’re lucky if one of them turns into power production. So you always take your shot with that, power is something we can’t develop.”

He said it was fair to question whether they should have acquired so many fly-ball pitchers in this kind of home run environment.

It still seems a bit curious that Dayton Moore won’t definitively rule out jumping to Atlanta, particularly with reports that having to answer to Braves Club President John Hart would be a big sticking point for Moore. But there probably shouldn’t be too much made of this - Moore made the same non-comments in 2014, when the Braves job previously opened up.

Perhaps Dayton Moore is holding his cards close to the vest, but if there is still uncertainty as to whether or not to rebuild, well, that is puzzling. Even if the Royals were to somehow bring back all their free agents, this is a team that still has significant holes, particularly on the pitching side, with few resources to address those weaknesses.

According to Dayton’s statements and Mellinger’s reporting, Moore seems to want to make one half-effort at contention next year, then tear it all down if (when) that fails. For someone that is rightly lauded for their clear direction and leadership, this seems a bit directionless. It was this kind of “having it both ways” that doomed the Royals last winter, when they traded away valuable assets like Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson for long-term assets, but then signed short-term free agents and insisted they were contending.

We shall see what transpires this off-season, whether it be under the direction of Dayton Moore or someone else. This will be a huge winter for the Royals organization, and clear leadership and wise decisions will be needed.