Royals GM Dayton Moore Says He Needed to Make This Blockbuster Trade to Create a Winning Culture in Kansas CityDecember 11, 2012 – 9:10 am by Chris Fedor
For the last few years the Kansas City Royals have been stockpiling young players either through the draft or in trades. Despite all the talent on the roster Kansas City still hasn’t made any real progress and they haven’t finished with a record above .500 since 2003. In large part, the Royals biggest problem has been their pitching. Kansas City went out this offseason with the intention of changing that and that is exactly what they have done. Not only did they bring in Ervin Santana but at the close of the winter meetings, KC made a blockbuster deal with the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the biggest deals in club history, to acquire innings-eater James Shields and young Wade Davis. It came at a price though. Kansas City had to dip into their rich farm system and they were forced to trade away a few of their most highly regarded prospects in Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to make the deal come together. It was a risky move by the Royals. Shields isn’t an ace so the price was very costly but GM Dayton Moore decided the window of opportunity is right now for the Royals in the winnable AL Central and pulled trigger.
Dayton Moore joined WHB in Kansas City with Soren Petro to talk about when the deal for James Shields and Wade Davis first started coming together, what this deal says about the Royals window of opportunity, on fans feeling like if the Royals don’t make the playoffs with James Shields the deal will be a failure, on the amount of inning James Shields has pitched recently and whether the Royals have any payroll restrictions.
When the deal for James Shields and Wade Davis first started coming together:
“We began discussing this probably in Mid-October. Certainly the General Manager meetings and leading up to the winter meetings and during the winter meetings and we were able to move a little quicker on it Saturday night and into yesterday some so it started to come together and like anything else when you’re trying to acquire talented major league pitchers you’re in competition. Other teams are trying to do the same and you have a pretty good idea of what the market price is going to be in terms of talent in this case and we had to be aggressive and make sure this was going to happen. We needed to make it happen and certainly wanted to make this deal and it worked out.”
What this deal says about the Royals window of opportunity:
“You and I have talked many times since we have come here to Kansas City and the way you create a winning culture is you win games and this can be a great place to work and we can enjoy what we do and the continuity is strong throughout scouting and player development and we have been able to develop some quality players and we’ve made some trades to bring in (Alcides) Escobar, (Lorenzo) Cain and (Tim) Collins and so forth but the way you develop a winning culture and create a winning culture is you simply have to win games. I didn’t believe and feel in my heart that just staying with the way we were continuing to do things was going to develop that winning culture and if we want Escobar, (Salvador) Perez, (Alex) Gordon, (Billy) Butler, (Mike) Moustakas and (Eric) Hosmer to turn into All-Star caliber players then we need to start bringing in some players that have been there, can give us stability and give us that example necessary and and play much, much, much more competitive baseball and that’s going to allow these players to reach their star potential so that was as much as anything else but we have a window here with this group where most of them are signed through the next three to seven years potentially, Wade Davis is potentially under contract for the next five and the farm system remains strong. We feel like we’re going to continue to graduate more players but this window, this core group, we feel like we need to do anything possible each year to put them in a position to win. Our fans deserve this, our employees deserve this, our players deserve this, those players that signed long-term contracts with us, one of the commitments they wanted from us was that we were going to do everything each year to put the best talent on the field and give them the best chance to win a World Championship because as you know their window of opportunity is very small together.”
On fans feeling like the only way this trade will be a success is if the Royals make the playoffs with James Shields:
“I can understand why some fans think that and I respect their opinions as fans but I think you never know what type of influence James Shields and others are going to have on future players and once you get that culture created and the winning begins it becomes a climate that players gravitate to. They want to come here, they enjoy the stadium, the atmosphere, they enjoy the travel, they like the environment, they feel like the organization is committed to winning so it’s hard to say that. We’ve had two winning years since 1985 or something along those lines and we all understand in some cases the desperation of our passionate and very supportive fan base. We just feel like we have to do everything we can to continue to win with this group of guys and I have to tell you we’re going to try to make more trades like this as we go forward because our farm system exists for two basic reasons, it exists to transition championship caliber players to the major leagues and we feel like we are going to continue to do that and continue to have two to three players each year competing for a spot on our 25 man roster. And you have to use those players in your farm system to supplement your major league team and add talent that blends in with the current group of players. That’s what we feel like we have done.”
On the high number of innings James Shields has thrown lately:
“It’s obviously a plus because he has proven that he can go out there and perform and compete and we know what type of worker he is. Dave Eiland our pitching coach was in the Tampa Bay organization and knows these pitchers very well. We feel good about them, our scouts have seen them along the way up and we have players who have an affiliation with him in the past. We know what type of worker they are and the other part of that is our medical people go through all of the necessary analysis and it’s a huge part of what we do. I get the medical opinion from our team docs and they analyzed James and Wade as we did Ervin Santana and they put that risk factor on those players and feel the risk is minimal. One thing about professional athletes we know they are genetically gifted and because they are genetically gifted their bodies adapt better than anybody else’s and to be able to perform at the highest level and pitch to the competitiveness and to the production that James has been able to do, their bodies have continued to adapt so we feel good about where they are. You can’t predict the future, that’s why you have as much depth as possible and you make a deal like this and you expect it to work, you expect good things to happen and you work hard to make that decision and you don’t look back.”
Whether he has any payroll restrictions to deal with in Kansas City now:
“I don’t feel any pressure that we have go out and cut payroll but certainly want to spend Mr. Glass’ money very wisely and be a good steward of his finances and he’s been tremendous with us and has given us every opportunity to spend very aggressively internationally and very aggressive in the draft. Back in 2009 he gave us the opportunity to go well beyond what he felt our break even point was and he’s given us that same opportunity here going forward but you’ve watched the game and studied the game long enough, it’s not about the money, it’s about the players. If you get the right type of players and certainly Oakland has proven that and other teams have proven that, it’s not about the major league payroll, it’s about getting the right type of players and the right mix together. That’s how you win and there’s going to be several teams with huge payrolls that perhaps will not make the playoffs in 2013. We have a tendency as baseball people and the people that follow the game to attach the dollar amount to the player and because the player is making a lot of money, we perceive them to be a very good player and at times they were very good to earn that type of money but that doesn’t mean they are producing now and that doesn’t mean they’re going to produce in the future. The money doesn’t make the player. It’s about getting the right guys and not just spending money to get the players in your system or on your major league team.”