The Royals called a press conference for 2pm CT this afternoon, and while they did not disclose the reason for the presser in that announcement, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the organization will announce a pair of key front-office promotions: Dayton Moore will be bumped from general manager to president of baseball operations, while assistant general manager JJ Piccolo will be promoted to the title of general manager.
Moore becomes the third general manager in as many weeks to be promoted to the title of president of baseball operations, following Tampa Bay’s Erik Neander and Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto in that regard. As with prior front-office promotions of this nature, the timing likely isn’t a coincidence. The Mets will be looking for new front-office leadership this offseason, and it’s possible at the end of any season that additional front-office openings will arise. Teams generally only allow their baseball ops executives to interview with other clubs if the new opportunity represents a promotion, so it’s relatively common this time of year to see some clubs promote baseball ops personnel they have a strong interest in retaining.
Moore, 54, was retained as general manager after former owner David Glass sold the franchise to current owner John Sherman last year, and reports at the time of the sale indicated the expectation was that new ownership had no plans to make sweeping changes. Today’s forthcoming press conference further cements that, as a promotion to president of baseball operations figures to be accompanied by a contract extension.
Initially named the Royals’ general manager back in 2006, Moore has the fourth-longest tenure of any baseball operations leader in MLB, trailing only Oakland’s Billy Beane (1997), the Yankees’ Brian Cashman (1998) and the Rangers’ Jon Daniels (2005). He’s overseen the franchise through multiple cycles of rebuilding and contending, highlighted by consecutive World Series appearances in 2014-15 — including a World Series championship with that 2015 squad.
Moore never fully tore down the team after that World Series core departed, even as the club took a step back. He resisted temptation to trade away the likes of Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez and (until this summer when he was a free-agent-to-be in a non-contending season) Danny Duffy. Throughout the current rebuilding effort, the Royals have sought to build through the draft and international free agency while still fielding some key stars with whom the fans connect. It’s not the typical rebuild blueprint, but it’s hard to suggest that the Royals aren’t well-positioned moving forward.
Despite this year’s 65-78 record, Kansas City appears on the cusp of taking a pronounced step forward. Bobby Witt Jr., the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, has emerged as one of the game’s elite prospects. Meanwhile, 2017 first-rounder Nick Pratto has exploded with a breakout showing in Double-A and Triple-A this season, landing himself in the middle of Baseball America’s latest top 100 ranking. Both figure to make their debuts early in 2022, and they’ll be joined by a growing crop of young arms that has not necessarily broken out in unison but carries a good amount of promise.
Each of Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch have at times ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects according to multiple publications, and each has had at least a cup of coffee in the Majors. Right-hander Carlos Hernandez wasn’t as highly touted but certainly has the look of a potential big league starter based on his strong rookie showing in 2021. Asa Lacy, the No. 4 overall pick in 2020, has had a rough debut in Double-A but might have the highest ceiling of the entire bunch. In the bullpen, right-handers Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont have been excellent, while lefty Richard Lovelady looks impressive in his own right (albeit in a bit smaller sample of 20 2/3 innings).
Piccolo and Moore have been working together since their days with the Braves in the early 2000s. Piccolo broke in as a scout with the Braves before moving up to director of minor league operations. With the Royals, he served as the team’s director of player development before being promoted to assistant general manager and vice president, a role in which he oversaw both the player development and player personnel departments.
For the past several offseasons, Piccolo has been an oft-cited candidate for positions with other organizations. He’s reportedly been of interest to the Phillies, Marlins and D-backs, among others, but ultimately stayed in Kansas City and now will get a significant bump in title.
From a big-picture standpoint, today’s pair of promotions doesn’t necessarily shake things up in dramatic fashion. Moore will still have the final say on baseball operations decisions, but the elevated titles (in addition to presumably coming with some notable pay increases) will keep both Moore and Piccolo in high-ranking positions as they see the latest rebuild through. They’ll continue to work with assistant general managers Scott Sharp and Rene Francisco — the former an oft-cited GM candidate with other clubs himself — as they look to transition the Royals to yet another run of prominence in an AL Central that looks weak behind the inevitable division-winning White Sox.