Royals promote coach Maier to front office

KANSAS CITY — After two seasons as the Royals’ first-base coach and outfielders instructor, Mitch Maier is being promoted to the front office, taking over as the team’s director of baseball operations.

Maier, 37, previously served as the organization’s Minor League outfielders/baserunning coordinator in 2017, and also was an interim first-base coach late in that season when Rusty Kuntz stepped down because of eye issues.

“I really didn’t have to give this much thought once the opportunity presented itself,” Maier said by phone. “Opportunities like this are rare and I couldn’t be more excited.

“It’s always a little tough when you make a transition from the field after developing relationships with players like [Adalberto Mondesi], Whit [Merrifield], Gordo [Alex Gordon], Jorge Soler. But I didn’t need to think about this. This is the best move for me and hopefully the best move for the organization.”

Royals general manager Dayton Moore admitted he has had his eye on Maier for this type of role for more than a year.

“And actually, I had a sense about this when Mitch was a player,” Moore said. “Mitch is one of the most respected people in our organization and throughout baseball. When we started talking as an organization about this move everyone had the same conclusion, that Mitch was right for it. He has an understanding of the game on many different levels.

“I’m very thrilled to be able to work more closely with him.”

Maier was drafted by the Royals in the first round (30th overall) in 2003. He then played parts of six seasons with the team. He spent all but one season of his playing career in the Royals’ organization, playing in 2013 with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate before retiring.

“It’s really the only organization I’ve ever known,” Maier said. “The transparency here, the loyalty, it’s all evident, and I want to do what I can do to contribute.”

Moore said Maier will be involved in all aspects of the organization and all aspects of leadership.

“This is really a special day for all of us,” Moore said.

Alec Zumwalt had been the team’s director of baseball operations for player development and scouting. Zumwalt recently transitioned into the team’s director of hitting development, creating a vacancy at the Major League level.

The Royals also now have two openings on new manager Mike Matheny’s staff. Dale Sveum, the bench coach under Ned Yost, has expressed a desire to be reassigned to another role in the organization so he can spend more time with his family.

Coaches Pedro Grifol, Vance Wilson and Cal Eldred all are expected to return.