Moore, Picollo given promotions by Royals

Moore becomes president of baseball operations; Picollo general manager

September 15th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- A leadership structure that has become one of baseball’s front office trends found its way to Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon.

During a press conference, Royals chairman/CEO John Sherman announced that general manager Dayton Moore will serve as the team’s president of baseball operations, a new role for the organization.

Moore’s longtime assistant J.J. Picollo, currently overseeing player personnel, was promoted to general manager. The promotions were effective Tuesday, and there could be further title changes within the front office over the offseason.

“I’m really excited about what Dayton can do for us in this role,” Sherman said. “He’s totally prepared. He talks to me about elevating his role, becoming more effective and I can’t wait to see that.

“J.J. has been an architect of helping modernize our baseball operations organization of the last few years. I know he had a lot of help doing it, but when you think about data science, analytics, and data capture and technology and all the tools that we have for player development, J.J. helped lead us to that evolution under Dayton’s tutelage. And I believe those initiatives are yielding us results right now.”

This move has been something Moore and Sherman began talking about once Sherman took over ownership in 2019. Moore, who is in his 15th full season as the Royals general manager, has mulled over the trend that several front offices have in place.

“This structure has been presented a few different times, and truthfully it just wasn’t one that personally, I was ready to embrace for a number of reasons,” Moore said. “But the more I spoke to some of my colleagues that have a similar structure … as I began to evaluate our personnel and the different skill sets that exist in this front office and as we began to lay out the different roles and how we can achieve sustained success … it became very, very clear this is the structure that makes the most sense.”

Why now?
Moore noted that he needed time to evaluate the structure and how it would work in Kansas City. And he had to come to terms with stepping back from the day to day operations, which he's been involved in since being hired on May 30, 2006.

“I think I had to probably come to grips with some things and just look at what’s best for the organization,” Moore said. “I just came to a realization that the best thing for the Kansas City Royals and all involved is this type of structure. And knowing full well that there [are] aspects of this job today that J.J. is more qualified to do than me. It’s as simple as that.”

To be clear, Moore will still have the final say on organizational changes, like trades and signings. But he will take more time to rove the Minor Leagues, spend time with scouts and with Sherman, focusing on the “culture” of the organization.

“Ultimately, I’ve got to make the final decision, the final authority with what works well or what doesn’t,” Moore said. “I’m going to trust J.J. to make those decisions. It’s very collaborative, as it has always been. I think the uniqueness of this relationship is that we’ve all worked together for so long.

“We don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Every once in a while, someone has to press that leadership button and say the tie is now broken. I’ll be the one to ultimately have to do that.”

Picollo, who has overseen the Royals’ farm system since 2015, will take over the Major League management and work with manager Mike Matheny closely, while having a heavy hand in trades, signings and the Draft.

“I have to be laser focused on what’s happening at the Major League level with our staff, our players, our Major League scouts,” Picollo said. “I look forward to that challenge. I’m excited about it.”

Moore and Picollo, along with other front office executives like Scott Sharp, Jin Wong and Lonnie Goldberg, have worked together for over a decade. Moore led the group and organization to consecutive World Series appearances and the franchise’s first championship in 30 years in 2015.

They’re counting on that synergy to help with the transition.

“We’ve always worked together, and I would be foolish as a first-time general manager not to count on somebody that sat in that seat for 15 years,” Picollo said. “Fortunately, it is somebody that I’ve know very well. I’m very comfortable with how we’re set up, not only myself but others within our front office. That collaboration has always taken place and will continue.”

Picollo has held several roles since following Moore to Kansas City in 2006, including scouting and player development, before overseeing the farm system.

Promoting him allows Kansas City to keep him in the organization as it moves into the next phase of its rebuilding efforts -- one that he has helped by overhauling the development program the past few years. The Royals boast one of the best systems in baseball, led by No. 3 prospect Bobby Witt Jr. and a host of other top prospects.

“He really kind of spearheaded the evolution of how we have worked to modernize our front office, how we incorporate all of the data, the performance science, the behavioral science, our character and leadership programs,” Moore said. “As we go forward, this is the very best move for the organization as we strive to have sustained success.”

Picollo becomes the seventh general manager in Royals history with the change. This is a move many saw coming, and Sherman even called it “strategic.” Picollo has drawn general manager interest from several other clubs over the past few years, including the Twins, Angels and his hometown Phillies.

“He has a well-rounded career path that I just think we’re lucky he wasn’t plucked from us to be a general manager a long time ago,” Sherman said. “… We’ve got two professionals here, and we’re going to be using them both at a higher level. And I think the Kansas City Royals will benefit for years to come.”

The move signaled a big day in the Royals organization, with focus on winning soon at a high peak. If you need further proof, here’s what Sherman said in the first few sentences of his press conference, seated in between Moore and Picollo:

“I’m the only guy without a ring. So let’s make a note of that.”