Royals fire longtime front-office executive Dayton Moore

photo by: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore, left, and owner John Sherman watch a drill during spring training baseball practice Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Surprise, Ariz.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals fired longtime executive Dayton Moore on Wednesday, ending the roller-coaster tenure of an influential general manager and president who took the club from perennial 100-game loser to two World Series and the 2015 championship before its quick return to mediocrity.

Royals owner John Sherman, who retained Moore after acquiring the club from David Glass in 2019, announced the move during a news conference at which Moore spoke briefly before quietly slipping out of the room.

“I think the objective is clear: It’s to compete again for championships, and we have to make sure we are progressing toward that goal,” said Sherman, whose club was 30 games below .500 heading into its game against Minnesota.

“In 2022 we regressed,” Sherman said, “and that happens. It happens to great teams. But as I started talking to Dayton and others, I felt like we needed more change than was talked about, and that was a big reason to make this one.”

Moore was hired in 2006 and tasked with rebuilding an organization that had not reached the playoffs in more than two decades. He quickly followed the blueprint that he learned from longtime Braves executive John Schuerholz, investing in Latin America and the minor league system before spending on proven major league talent.

It took most of another decade for the plan to work, but the Royals began to see progress with a winning record in 2013, when a wave of young players began to reach the majors. And the breakthrough came the following year, when a team built around Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas won the first of two consecutive American League pennants.

The Royals lost their first trip to the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in a dramatic seven-game series, but they finished the job the following year, beating the New York Mets in five for their first championship since 1985.

Moore knew it would be impossible for the small-market organization to keep that team together as Hosmer and others hit free agency. So after a middling season in 2016, the Royals began again with a nearly top-to-bottom rebuild — one that has been hamstrung by poor drafts, lousy player development and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on baseball.

“There is a gap right now between where we are and where we expected,” said Sherman, who owned a piece of the first-place Guardians before acquiring the Royals. “I felt like in 2021 we did make progress, and in 2022, that’s not how I feel.”

Sherman tried a mild shakeup to the front office last offseason, elevating Moore from general manager to president of baseball operations while giving J.J. Picollo the GM title. But the awkward splitting of jobs never quite worked, and Sherman decided to bring them back together with Picollo handling all aspects of baseball operations.

Picollo was the first person Moore hired when he took over the Royals in 2006.

“This job, from my experience, is all about evaluating, selecting and developing talent, and getting the most out of that talent,” Sherman said. “He’s very excited about this opportunity, and certainly it’s bittersweet for him having spent so much time under Dayton. But this is what his career has prepared him to do.”

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