Royals dismiss Dayton Moore as president of baseball ops

'It's time for change,' said Royals chairman and CEO John Sherman

September 22nd, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- The Dayton Moore era in Kansas City -- one that has spanned more than 16 years and included two American League pennants and a World Series title -- has come to a close.

John Sherman made the most significant change of leadership in his three years since taking over as Royals chairman and CEO, announcing that the organization has dismissed its longtime top executive on Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

General manager J.J. Picollo will oversee the baseball operations department, Sherman announced, effective immediately.

"Today, I think the bottom line here is it's time for change," Sherman said in the hours before the Royals’ 5-2 win over the Twins on Wednesday night. "And Dayton agrees with that. It's been a difficult decision. Lot of conversations. But Dayton agrees this is an appropriate time for change. J.J. Picollo, from my perspective, his career, body of work and track record has totally prepared him for the challenges of this role."

Sherman said the decision to part ways with Moore was his after talking to advisors and watching the 2022 season, one that has been a massive disappointment in a year the Royals had hoped to take significant steps forward in their rebuild. Kansas City is 30 games below .500, and while there are bright spots with its young core of players in the Majors, questions remain about development and future success.

After the coronavirus pandemic shortened the 2020 season, the Royals made offseason moves that they hoped would spark their rebuild, signing veteran players Mike Minor, Carlos Santana and Michael A. Taylor and trading for Andrew Benintendi.

At the end of ’22, only Taylor remains with the Royals. The results and processes of the last two years were what spurred Sherman to move on from Moore.

“There is a gap right now of where we are and where we expect to be,” Sherman said. “In 2021, we tried to make some investments. … We knew we had a young core coming up, and we thought perhaps we can accelerate our development. I wouldn’t say that was successful, but I felt like in 2021, we did make progress. And in 2022, that’s not how I feel.

“There are certainly some bright spots, we love seeing the young players. But I think in 2022, we’re not where we expect to be.”

Several sources have indicated change was coming throughout this season. But the decision to dismiss Moore came as a shock to many, including players, because of the impact he has had on the franchise and Kansas City.

“It’s a sad day, really for the whole organization,” rookie Bobby Witt Jr. said after going 2-for-4 with an RBI on Wednesday to help the Royals clinch a series win. “He’s been pretty much a role model to me and did all the right things for me. He’s been there for me not only on the field but off the field. He’s done that to everyone in this clubhouse. I think everyone around baseball knows how great of a guy he is.”

Knowing that change might be needed to get the Royals back into contention didn’t lessen the blow of losing Moore, who was the engineer of Kansas City’s back-to-back pennants and World Series title and known around the game for how well he treated employees and players.

“It’s hard. I never thought Dayton would leave the organization,” said catcher Salvador Perez, the longest-tenured Royal who signed with the organization as a 16-year-old in 2006. “I love him like a father. He taught me things my father didn’t have the opportunity to teach me. I love him and the way he is. He’s the best.

“I don’t know about other people, but for me, Dayton’s the best GM person in the game.”

Moore became the sixth general manager in franchise history when he was hired on May 30, 2006, with one goal: Turn the organization around. That’s eventually what he did, building it from the ground up. The Royals improved their win total in seven consecutive seasons from 2009-15, including their first winning season in 2013 (86-76) since 2003 and the run of success in 2014-15.

“Dayton resurrected this franchise,” Sherman said. “It was not in a good spot. He rebuilt the farm system, player development, international business. Today, I want to make sure as we make this change, my feeling is gratitude for Dayton Moore and all he’s done for this organization.”

Meanwhile, Moore became highly respected for what he did off the field and how he treated people. He helped establish the Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy, his "C" You in the Major Leagues Foundation and Unite KC, all initiatives geared toward helping youth in the Kansas City community.

“Dayton was an incredible partner to me in 2020 when we had to make tough business decisions,” Sherman said. “I was very proud, and it was really with Dayton’s council, when we paid the Minor Leaguers, we didn’t lay off or furlough anyone. Leadership took paycuts, and it was really a shared sacrifice to make sure we didn’t have to do those things. There are lots of ways I appreciate Dayton.”

True to his character, Moore was at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday and in the room when Sherman announced the move.

"I can't say enough about the great support of this community, our fans, our sponsors," Moore said. "Everything that makes Kansas City special is what we've tried to represent. I'm very proud of what we've accomplished here. I'm very proud of our culture. And I'm really excited about the future of the Kansas City Royals.

"John Sherman is a great owner. He's going to do wonderful things for this city. In baseball, when you don't win enough games, change sometimes is required. It's a part of it. We know that and accept it. Everything in life is for our learning, and I will continue to learn through this as well."

Moore’s presence Wednesday left an impact on those watching, many of whom had been hired by him.

Then, Moore went into the Royals clubhouse to say goodbye to every player, coach and staff member.

“Every one of us,” Nicky Lopez said. “That’s the type of person he is. Said goodbye to every single one of us, including trainers and coaches and clubbies. He truly cares about the person first, baseball player second.

“A piece of us left today. That’s no slight to J.J. or the front office, they have a job to do as well, but a piece that we’ve known for our whole career has left. It’s going to hurt.”