As brutal as the Royals’ season has been, owner John Sherman today expressed “full confidence” in first-year general manager JJ Piccolo and rookie manager Matt Quatraro, according to MLB.com’s Ann Rogers (Twitter links). Of course, that doesn’t mean Sherman considers the 2023 season passable — far from it. Royals CEO said, “I feel responsible for where we are right now with our baseball team. We are committed to doing what it takes to get back in form. … This is a real evaluation year, and that evaluation is hurting right now.”
Picollo is still fresh at the top of the baseball operations hierarchy, but he’s been with the Royals organization since 2006, when he was named the team’s Director of Player Development. Meanwhile, Quatraro is in his first year with the club after previously serving as an assistant hitting coach in Cleveland and as a third base coach and bench coach with Tampa Bay.
The Royals fired Chief of Baseball Operations Dayton Moore back in September and raised Piccolo in his place. Moore has been one of the sport’s longest serving baseball operations leaders, originally ascending to general manager in 2006. The Royals named him president of baseball operations in 2021, at the same time promoting Piccolo from assistant general manager to GM .
Picollo has been independent in baseball operations for less than a year, but moves that were made off last season haven’t panned out overall. Two-year deal for Jordan Lyles So far he has produced disastrous results (6.68 ERA in 91 2/3 innings pitched). Zack Grenk He moved back to Kansas City on a one-year deal and has been pitching capable innings, though his final trio of hard starts pushed his ERA north of 5.00. left-handed signature Ryan Yarbrough It’s hard to judge, because he got out nearly two months after being hit in the head by a returnee.
To Picollo’s credit, the Royals’ low-cost investment in the former Yankees stopper Aroldis Chapman It worked as one could hope. The 35-year-old’s fastball velocity has rebounded to its highest level since 2017, and his 42.9% strike rate is his highest mark in a 162-game season since 2018. The 16.8% walk rate is still very high, but driving issues have always been a part From Chapman’s experience. As it stands, he’s a slam dunk trade candidate and could pick up some secondary talent in Kansas City between now and the August 1st trade deadline.
The lackluster performance from the Royals’ offseason additions is only a small part of the team’s woes for 2023, of course. Much of the recent rebuilding effort has pinned its hopes on developing polished college pitchers — with a heavy focus on that in the 2018 draft — but those efforts have yet to bear fruit.
Brady singer He looked like he had a great 2022 season, but he’s slipped in troubling fashion this year, hitting a 5.88 ERA with troubling negative trends in strike rate, walk rate, and pace. Fellow College Arms Daniel LynchAnd Jackson QuarAnd Chris BobickAnd Jonathan Heasley And Asa Lacey It did not develop as hoped. On the position player side of things, he loves youngsters MJ MelendezAnd Michael MasseyAnd Nate EatonAnd Taylor held out And Kyle Isbel They all struggled at the big league level in 2023.
As for Quatraro, while Royals fans certainly couldn’t be happy with fielding results in his first year on the job, roster composition no captain can reasonably be expected to get passable results from this group. Managers are evaluated for much more than just wins and losses anyway – arguably more than ever before in today’s game.
Based on recent history, Sherman’s comments are completely unsurprising. There is little to no precedent recently for a general manager or first-year manager to be in the hot seat just three months into his first season on the job. The details of Picollo’s contract remain unclear, but the organization signed him to a multi-year extension late in the 2021 season. Granted, Moore was also extended and promoted at that point, but he had a 16-year runway as captain of baseball operations by the time he was fired; Piccolo has only been in his current position for nine months. Quatraro, meanwhile, has signed a three-year contract that runs until the 2025 season and has a club option for the 2026 campaign.
If the Royals want to turn things around in the near future, they’re going to need a lot of help from a farm system that entered the year ranked in the bottom half of the league — as low as 29 in both Baseball America and MLB.com. Picollo will have the opportunity to add to this system over the next month when it markets Chapman and presumably closer Scott Barlowbut the disappointing performance of several veteran Kansas City players leaves the Royals without many trading chips to dangle at rival clubs.