Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports that the Kansas City Royals have denied the Atlanta Braves request to interview Dayton Moore.
The Braves front office is in turmoil, with general manager John Coppollela being dismissed amid a Major League Baseball investigation of scouting and free agent signing infractions in Latin America. Moore was immediately named — by fans and media, mostly — as someone the Braves may target given that he worked for the Braves for 12 years, rising out from a scouting job to assistant general manager. Moore has not commented at all on the Braves opening, saying publicly that he is committed oto the Royals.
Moore signed an contract extension with the Royals in February 2016, and any team interested in hiring him would have to get permission from the Royals before interviewing him. It would be unusual for a team to grant permission for an executive under contract to interview with another team if it was merely a lateral move. Crasnick, however, says that the Braves wanted to interview Moore for a job “running their baseball operation,” which suggests that it’d be a promotion, as the Braves have at least one guy — president of baseball operations John Hart — as well as senior advisors such as John Scheurholtz who have had veto power over the GM’s decisions. It’s common in baseball for teams to grant permission for moves up the ladder.
Of course, there could be some nuance to all of this, extending from baseball’s recent trend of giving loftier and loftier titles to the men atop the baseball operations pyramid. The Royals do not have anyone above Moore as the GM, so perhaps, titles aside, they view the Braves opening as a lateral move. Hard to say.
Either way: looks like Moore isn’t going anyplace.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.