An Uncertain Future

The Royals are stuck.

They are stuck with a general manager who most likely has interest in a similar job with another organization.

They are stuck with ownership who currently doesn’t have a clear plan of their own level of involvement over the next several years.

And in the most important offseason in the history of the franchise, they are stuck in between the dueling egos of the ownership and the general manager.

The situation with Dayton Moore and David and Dan Glass has dissolved into some kind of mess.

Let’s start with the General Manager. It seems Moore has real interest in returning to Atlanta to run their club. When David Glass wouldn’t give his consent for Moore to talk to the Braves, was it because he was looking to maximize his leverage, or was he really trying to shut down speculation and keep his general manager in Kansas City?

It seems no one really knows.

Moore and David Glass apparently haven’t spoken since the Royals owner blocked Moore from negotiations with the Braves about moving to Atlanta. It’s a remarkable turn in a relationship that always seemed strong. Glass desired a winner, but had no clue how to build one. Moore had the baseball pedigree and the plan. When an agreement was struck on how the two would balance their roles, they joined forces. It took a while, but David Glass provided the means and Moore provided the Process. Together, they brought life back to The K and Kansas City baseball. Just two years removed from a parade down Grand Boulevard, it’s stunning to see this partnership deteriorate to the current state where no one knows what’s happening.

That’s what a pair of underwhelming seasons and a looming rebuild can do. Even the foundations that seem the strongest can begin to crumble under the weight of disappointment. It becomes fodder for columnists and sports talk radio.

In the current situation, there’s plenty of blame that Moore has to shoulder. He has made myriad missteps since the parade. Poor free agent signings, bad trades, terrible drafts and a player development system that has underwhelmed has now put the Royals in another rebuilding position.

Meanwhile, David Glass isn’t providing any clue to his own future with the Royals. At 82 years old, it makes since for Glass to have a succession plan in place. If he does, no one outside of his family knows about it. Will his children inherit the team? Will it return to a trust? Or will Glass look to divest sooner rather than later? These are the same questions we faced with Ewing Kauffman. He at least took steps to try to ensure stability. (None of those really worked out, by the way.) Glass’s intentions remain a mystery and it’s a source of concern of many within the organization.

At this point, Moore wants assurances for his own future, but with the long-term ownership situation in doubt, nobody knows what’s happening. Moore is asking the right questions, but the answers aren’t forthcoming. That’s one reason the Braves job may be appealing at this point. There are 30 General Managers jobs in baseball and they don’t open up all that often. Besides, the only job Moore would be interested in besides his current position in Kansas City would be the one in Atlanta, where he made his bones in this game. If Moore ever harbored the desire to return and lead the Braves, this may be his last chance. He’s looking for security. Standing in his way are David Glass and the fog of the future.

Dan Glass is the third wheel in this partnership. The owner’s son has a comfortable chair in a nice office at the stadium but who really knows what he does? Despite having no baseball credentials, he at one time he was a Baseball Operations Assistant and was somehow an Assistant Director of Player Personnel and assisted in scouting and player development. Glass was at his most visible over 12 years ago when the Royals were lobbying Jackson County voters for a new stadium. He hasn’t been seen or heard from much since.

You should be leery of Dan Glass. In a podcast last month with the Star’s Rustin Dodd, former Royals beat writer Bob Dutton told a story where Carlos Beltran and the Royals front office negotiated a contract extension worth $25 million over three years. It was derailed when Dan Glass undercut his staff and instructed them to lower the offer to $24 million.

There are more stories like this. Trades that were derailed because Dan Glass didn’t like the players the Royals would receive. Funding in baseball operations that was cut because he was looking to save a few dollars. A front office that was hamstrung on a shoestring budget. The Wal-Mart way was applied to baseball in Kansas City and was an embarrassing failure.

Does Dan Glass figure into any kind of succession plan? Has he learned anything from the past? Moore used to have a strong relationship with David Glass (maybe that can still be salvaged) but hasn’t had the same kind of rapport with his son. Can Moore work for Dan Glass?

The ownership questions and the uncertainty of the looming rebuild have thrown everything into doubt. We have come to the point where this is a standoff.

There is one thing we can say with certainty: This won’t end well for the Glass family. A contentious relationship with the architect of two AL pennant winning clubs and a world championship is not how they should go about their business. Not given how far Moore brought this franchise. Souring on the man and his process just two years after a title would be a massive red flag to anyone they would approach to replace Moore. Yes, David Glass changed for the better once Moore arrived, giving him the resources and the latitude to do a proper job. However, first impressions are difficult to shake. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking that maybe the Glass family somehow didn’t learn anything. Maybe they’re so stubborn that they think they have found another way to win. Their way. Maybe they feel like they sat on the sidelines long enough and are ready to exert some fiscal muscle and roll back the advances made over the last decade plus.

There’s always been a little bit of that worry how ownership would react as the payroll has crept to heights unimaginable a decade ago. When the Royals won in 2014, the Opening Day payroll was $92 million. In the championship season of 2015 it was $112 million. Mark it down to the cost of winning. The payroll jumped to $131.5 million in ’16 and $143 million last year but the wins were more difficult to find. As the team sputtered to .500 finishes, it wasn’t inconceivable to think the Glass family wouldn’t continue to tolerate throwing cash after mediocre (or worse) teams.

Then there was the postseason press conferences. In year’s past, there’s always been the discussion of the budget and where the team thought they would go financially. It was almost always a smoke screen. They pled austerity last October only to set another Opening Day payroll record. Still, they talked finances. This year…nothing. No discussion at all. They already have over $110 million committed to next season counting guaranteed contracts and players eligible for arbitration. Are they looking to slash payroll or are they going to forge ahead with close to the same amount as the last couple of seasons? Ominous.

We’re left with so many additional troubling questions. Are they going to buckle up and face the reality of the rebuild with Moore still in charge? Or are they going to let him go and try to find someone with a new philosophy on building a team? Someone who won’t tell ownership how to spend their money?

This is the worst position imaginable for the Royals. With free agency open for business, the offseason is officially under way. The team needs a plan, and it needs to be longterm. It’s not about next season, rather it’s about the next several. But with Moore uncertain about his future, David Glass unclear about his and Dan Glass lurking in the shadows it’s a troubling time at One Royal Way.

Meanwhile, like the Royals, the Braves are stuck. As they await penalties from Major League Baseball their front office is in a similar situation as the Royals, unsure of their future and how they move forward. President of baseball operations John Hart has been cleared in the investigation, but it’s difficult to see Moore going to Atlanta if Hart is still in his role. Pending sanctions aside, the Braves job is highly coveted. They are well along their rebuilding process and will be set to contend, maybe as soon as next season. With a new stadium and a stocked farm system the future is bright in Atlanta. The only thing they’re missing is leadership. And who better to turn to after a mess of an investigation than Dayton Moore?

Two teams stuck, not able to move forward, waiting for the dominoes to tumble.

It could happen soon. While Moore and Glass haven’t spoken in weeks, it sounds like they are planning to have a sit down at the GM meetings next week. It’s anyone’s guess how it goes. In less than two weeks from now, the Royals will have either a plan for the future in place or will be on the market for a new general manager. The only thing that can be said with certainty is what happens in that hotel room in Orlando will shape the future of the franchise.

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