Did Dayton Moore Tank?
In a word, no.
When Moore took over from Allard Baird in 2006, he tried to add veterans to his prospects. He signed Jose Guillen to a three-year, $36 million deal before the 2007 season after failing to interest big-name outfielders Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones. This was Moore’s first winter as GM.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The versatile Nate Eaton
- KC Royals: Club appears ready to hire pitching assistant
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Infielder Nicky Lopez
- New pitching coach looks like a good fit for KC Royals
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Second baseman Michael Massey
In 2008, Moore signed Mariners starter Gil Meche to the largest contract in team history at five-years, $55 million. When the 2008 team posted a better than expected 75 win season, Moore attempted to patch his roster holes by trading for center-fielder Coco Crisp and first baseman Mike Jacobs, then signing free-agent set-up men Juan Cruz, John Bale, and Kyle Farnsworth. Moore also added bottom-of-the-rotation guy Luke Hudson and utility man Willie Bloomquist.
These moves failed, in large part because many of the “prospects” in the system were duds due to the penny pinching ways of owner David Glass during the Baird regime. So while the Kansas City Royals did pile up high draft picks due to on field failure early in Moore’s tenure, it wasn’t due to design. Moore inherited a terrible organization with bad scouting, player development, and prospects.
It wasn’t going to be an overnight fix, no matter how hard he tried.
We can see Moore’s efforts by looking at KC’s payrolls. The KC Royals payroll zoomed to $67 million in 2007, up from $47 million in 2006, according to Cot’s contracts. The payroll dipped to $58 million in 2008, but jumped to $70 million in 2009 and $74 million in 2010.
Now, the Kansas City Royals payroll did dive to $38 million in 2011. But the team debuted 15 rookies (who made major-league minimum) that season, including many guys who formed the core of the 2015 World Champions such as: Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, Danny Duffy, and Jarrod Dyson.
Along with those rookies, the 2011 roster featured developing young players like Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. Former top-prospect Alex Gordon blossomed from “bust” to “star” with a breakthrough season at age 27.
Not only was Moore developing legitimate prospects, he added bargain free-agent signings in outfielders Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur. While Cabrera and Francoeur did not sustain their 2011 success in Kansas City, you can’t say that Moore was tanking when he was simultaneously developing legitimate prospects as well as adding useful veterans.
In retrospect, the low-payroll losing seasons in 2011 and 2012 weren’t used to obtain prospects. They were necessary to help young KC Royals players grow into a team capable of winning.
That’s not tanking.
Next: Is Tanking Really A Problem?