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Reflecting on Dayton Moore’s Complex Royals Legacy

The Moore era has come to an abrupt end, but he can be proud of the legacy he's leaving for the future.

The Dayton Moore era in Kansas City Royals baseball has come to an end. Majority owner John Sherman made the announcement, with Moore at his side, on Wednesday that Moore has been dismissed as president of baseball operations. 

Along with the seasons changing from summer to fall on the calendar, the seasons of change within the Royals' front office may have been a bit surprising to some. With that said, the changes were also necessary. This ends a 16-year run under Moore’s watch. General manager J.J. Picollo will add some responsibility to his plate, in addition to his role as GM, as the organization moves into this new era.

Thinking back over the Moore era in Royals history, I’ll always keep in mind the rapid rise of the mid-2010 Royals. Moore took over a depleted franchise and built up the Royals' farm system from scratch. He helped overhaul a roster and take it from bottom-feeder into contender status, focusing on young and homegrown talent. 

In the process, he also pieced together some of the best bullpens in MLB history with all things considered. It was almost a certainty that if the Royals had a lead heading into the sixth inning during their peaks back in 2014 and 2015, the team would walk away with a win. There may never be a club with such clarity in the back end of its bullpen again.

Feb 21, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore during Spring Training Media Day at The Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Some of the trades Moore made — both good and bad —  will also be looked back on. Trading Zack Greinke for Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar and others to try and kick start the rebuild resulted in Cain and Escobar being key pieces of Kansas City's World Series runs.

Then, of course, there was the trade primarily featuring Wil Myers being shipped to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. At the time, many thought Davis was a throwaway player in the trade. On the contrary, fortunately for the Royals, he ended up becoming one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball at the height of his powers.

Additionally, there was the underrated trade when Moore flipped Jonathan Sanchez for Jeremy Guthrie. Neither pitcher was doing well with their respective club, yet Guthrie became a solid No. 5 starter on a World Series team. There were also a couple of trades during one of the greatest summers in Royals history. Moore worked out deals for starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and utility player Ben Zobrist to help in Kansas City's push to win the World Series in 2015.

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Of course, not every trade worked out. Moore tried to go all-in again in 2017 by trading for a couple of pitchers from the San Diego Padres. They ended up imploding on multiple occasions at the end of that summer and as a result, the Royals didn’t sniff the playoffs that year.

Under Moore's supervision, there were plenty of instances in which trades should have been made but players were kept for too long. Look no further than 2017, the end of the golden era of Royals baseball. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Cain, Escobar and others were kept until the very end of their deals. Later on, Whit Merrifield should have been traded at the peak of his value in 2019. There’s a case to be made that Salvador Perez should have been traded at the peak of his value as well, despite being a fan favorite.

Another thing I’ll never forget during Moore’s era is the tragedy that was the death of Yordano Ventura. At the time of his passing, he was on pace to be a dynamic pitcher for years to come. Behind the scenes, Moore did all he could for Ventura’s family during the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Many times, things like that go unnoticed by fans and media alike.

On that note, Moore definitely had — and still has — a heart for people and the community. It was, and is, one of his biggest strengths as a leader. He will leave a lasting legacy in Kansas City through his involvement with local charities and organizations.

One of those organizations is 'C You in the Major Leagues'. Moore started the initiative to help children and families in crisis and develop future leaders in the community. The Urban Youth Baseball Academy was another brainchild of Moore’s. The UYA focuses on empowering local youth through both baseball and softball, as well as providing them with academic and social opportunities to thrive as leaders in the future. Moore has been and continues to be a huge proponent of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City and wanted to see it thrive not only locally, but on a national scale.

Earlier this year, Moore was awarded the Ripple of Kindness Award for all of the charitable work he’s done in Kansas City. When the dust settles and Moore thinks about his time in Kansas City, he will probably think of the relationships he built and his lasting impact on the community rather than the wins and losses on the baseball field. 

Part of his love of people also seemed to hinder his ability to move on at times. Sometimes he’d keep coaches and players around a little bit longer than they should have been when the team floundered through losing seasons. Having so many poor seasons outside of that aforementioned brief contention window will also be remembered when looking back on the Moore era. The Royals' inability to get consistent starting pitching was one of the biggest thorns in Moore’s side.

There were far more lows than highs on the field during Moore’s tenure. With that said, the pennants he helped secure and the memories he made for the Royals' players and fan base alike will remain for generations. Ultimately, that’s what will likely be remembered the most from this era of Royals baseball.