After 16 seasons in Kansas City, former Royals club president Dayton Moore says he was “shocked” by his firing, in an appearance on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast with sportswriter Rob Bradford. In his first public comments since the press conference announcing his dismissal in September, Moore told Bradford he did not anticipate losing his job.
“I was shocked. I was surprised. I didn’t see it coming. We had been making plans for what we were going to do not only for the upcoming season but the next three years.”
After winning back-to-back pennants, culminating in a championship in 2015, Moore’s Royals spent the next seven seasons without a winning season, including two 100-plus-loss seasons and a 97-loss season in 2022.
“We certainly felt that we’d done a lot of the heavy lifting in our organization since 2017 and since our last group had moved on and we set out to build our organization through homegrown talent. We have a lot of homegrown guys on the field. Quality young players that we thought – and we do believe – are still going to continue to get better. And so the organization’s definitely trending in the right spot.”
Moore confirmed he had an opportunity to leave the Royals for the Atlanta Braves, something that was reported at the time. But he was willing to stay in Kansas City for the Glass family, despite the fact the rebuild was more of a strain than he anticipated.
“After the 2017 season we had an opportunity to perhaps go back to Atlanta. Mr. Glass felt it was best for me to stay in Kansas City and I was going to uphold his wishes - he had been faithful to us, and supportive to us. If he wanted me in stay in Kansas City, I was willing to stay. But I didn’t anticipate an ownership change.”
One of the themes that owner John Sherman talked a lot about during the press conference announcing Moore’s dismissal was the need to integrate more data into decision-making in the organization. Moore admits that while he appreciates data, he still sees the value in understanding the make up of players.
“I appreciate and respect and admire and covet the data and information that is out there. Always have. But I learned the game through a different way. I learned it through more of a pure evaluation, understanding the makeup of players, what motivates them, what drives them to be successful. Those things will never ever change. You have to understand the heart and desire of a player, and what their habits are like, what their routines consist of, because that is a predictor of future success.”
Moore talked about a number of topics with Bradford, from his time in Kansas City to the changing nature of the game itself. Moore agrees with Bradford that it is “harder to make deals today” because of the focus on not wanting to give players up, rather than focusing on what players are being received.
“I remember when we did the Wil Myers trade, the overwhelming majority of our organization did not want to trade Wil Myers. I understand that...but I knew that unless we got some impactful pitching, we were never going to be a playoff-caliber team.”
Sherman has talked about having a more consistent winner that can reach the playoffs on a more regular basis. In his podcast appearance, Dayton Moore says that while there is value in consistency, he prefers a model of building up a team, then putting all your chips in for one big push, as the Royals did at their peak. He pushed back on some of the calls to be more transactional, as some fans wanted.
“The fans of Kansas City enjoy the ups and downs and evolution of a Major League player. They like to follow them. They don’t like to see a lot of change. Where people would say you have to be more transactional with your roster and move players, we never really did that, we stayed committed to our core group. Our fans understood that and liked that and fell in love with them. We had certain people in our fanbase and probably in our ownership group that didn’t like it. They wanted to be more transactional. And that’s okay.”
The comments highlight the conflict that was within the organization that eventually led to Moore’s ouster. Sherman had placed an emphasis on data integration in decision-making, a transactional approach, and a model of consistency, something Moore philosophically disagreed with.
As far as what’s next for him, Moore wants to stay in the game of baseball and expects to have something worked out in the next few weeks. There are reports the Rangers, run by former Royals pitcher Chris Young, are interested in hiring him in some capacity.
“I anticipate being in spring training with somebody.”