KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After 15 seasons as the Kansas City Royals’ general manager, Dayton Moore has been promoted to the role of team president.
MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman also broke the news Tuesday that J.J. Picollo, who has served as vice president and assistant general manager since 2015, is now the Royals’ new GM with Moore’s promotion.
Royals principal owner John Sherman confirmed the promotions during a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
“This structure is best practice in our industry now ...,” Sherman said. “I think this will evolve, but I expect to get more executive, high-level thinking from Dayton when we think about the team and I know the day-to-day operation of the team in good hands.”
Picollo said the team’s focus will remain on its players “who drive the train” for the organization, while Moore said he’ll remain in the field some but also will work closer with Sherman. That includes the drive to beef up the Royals’ community efforts.
“I like to be in the middle of the fight,” Moore said. “I don’t see that changing a whole lot.”
Moore, a native of Wichita and the longest-serving GM in club history, has served as the Royals’ senior vice president for baseball operations and general manager since 2006, taking over a franchise that hadn’t reached the postseason since winning the 1985 World Series and had lost at least 100 games in three of the previous four years.
“This structure has been proposed a few times, but it wasn’t one I was willing to embrace for a number of reasons,” Moore said.
As he studied it further with an eye toward “achieving sustained success ... it became very clear that this was the structure that made the most sense.”
Moore said the size of the Royals’ front office, the team and clubhouse staff, and medical/training staff have more than tripled from 85 to 266 employees since he took over the baseball operations department in 2006.
After years of neglect, Moore rebuilt the farm system and scoured the free agent market for inefficiencies — prioritizing speed and defense to take advantage of Kauffman Stadium’s spacious confines and middle relief.
The Royals have won more Rawlings Gold Gloves (18) than any other franchise during Moore’s tenure.
Moore’s first two first-round picks, third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer, became central figures as the Royals returned to the playoffs in 2014, which kicked off with a stirring Wild Card win against the Oakland A’s.
That comeback win touched off a magical run, which included sweeps of the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles en route to the franchise’s first World Series in 29 seasons.
Kansas City lost to the San Francisco Giants in seven games that season, but returned to finish the job in 2015 thanks in part to a lockdown bullpen — including Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, the vaunted HDH.
Since Moore took over June 8, 2006, the Royals are 1,106-1,308 in the regular season and 22-9 in the postseason. He was MLB’s Executive of the Year in 2014 and 2015.
Moore leaves the GM post in a considerably better position than he found it.
After the back-to-back World Series appearances, Kansas City pivoted its focus to drafting college pitchers — a strategy designed to shorten the time needed to develop a rotation capable of helping the Royals rebuild and emerge as contenders again.
Three current starting pitchers — right-hander Brady Singer along with left-handers Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch — were part of that effort.
The Royals have a top-five farm system, according to MLB.com, with a stockpile of talent that also includes shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., first baseman Nick Pratto and catcher M.J. Melendez along with pitchers Jackson Kowar and Asa Lacy among others.
Picollo, who followed Moore from Atlanta and described him as a great mentor and leader, initially joined the Royals as the director of player development in August 2006.
He was promoted to assistant general manager for scouting and player development in 2008 before his January 2015 promotion to his vice president and assistant GM for player personnel.
“As we go forward, this is the very best move for the organization,” Moore said.
He and Sherman both highlighted Picollo’s embrace and success using advanced metrics, which have revolutionized the sport in the last two decades, in congratulating him on the promotion.
Picollo’s name had come up in some recent GM searches for other franchises, but he stayed in Kansas City and will become only the seventh general manager in franchise history.
"If that opportunity would have come, certainly we would have supported him, but this is a much, much better outcomes for the Kansas City Royals," Sherman said.
Drafted twice by the Cincinnati Reds, first in 1989 out of high school and again in 1993 after his junior season at George Mason, Picollo signed with the New York Yankees after his senior season.
He was a seldom-used backup catcher for the Oneonta Yankees in his only professional season before starting his post-playing baseball career as a college assistant before joining Atlanta’s scouting department in 1999.
Moore’s legacy also includes spearheading construction of the Urban Youth Academy in the 19th & Vine Jazz District, a $21-million “center for character development and educational advancement for our Community’s urban youth.
He also started the “C” You In the Major Leagues Foundation in 2013 “to provide hope and support to children and families by using youth baseball to develop future character-driven leaders.”