A strong-armed and gangly outfielder sporting raw power, Dye was promoted to the Atlanta Braves in May 1996 when David Justice dislocated his right shoulder. In his first at-bat, Dye proved his stroke was for real, socking a homer off short reliever Marcus Moore. After beating out Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith for the majority of starts as the third outfielder, he helped the Braves reach the postseason that year, but batted just .179 over 15 games in October, as Atlanta lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series.
In March 1997, Dye was traded to the Kansas City Royals for the more experienced and popular Michael Tucker and utility infielder Keith Lockhart. Though manager Tony Muser had high hopes for Dye, he spent much of ’97 and ’98 on the disabled list with various injuries, including torn cartilage in his knee, sustained when he was getting into a car in August 1998.
But 1999 proved to be Dye’s coming out party. After Jeff Conine was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, a strong performance in spring training earned Dye the starting job in rightfield, and he responded by slugging six homers and driving in 20 through April. By the end of the year, the outfielder had exploded for 27 home runs and 119 RBIs, quickly losing his unofficial title as “the player traded for Michael Tucker,” and he was placed in the cleanup spot behind the powerful Mike Sweeney.
Strongly considered for the Gold Glove Award behind his aggressive outfield play, Dye also set a new club record with 17 outfield assists. His anonymity since discarded by 2000, the multi-tooled Dye was seen as a player who could revive the lagging club, and with Sweeney, leadoff sparkplug Johnny Damon, and steady Joe Randa, the Royals were looking for a playoff berth. The outfielder aimed to please, hitting .321 with 33 dingers and 118 RBIs while becoming the first Royal to be named as a starter on the All-Star team since Bo Jackson. Though KC fell short in the wild card race at the end of the season, Dye brought home his first Gold Glove.
By late July 2001, the Royals were heading south. The loss of Damon in the offseason and the sluggish production from the rest of the team were reflected in Dye’s subpar stats. With the trade deadline just a week away, Kansas City traded the outfielder in a three-way swap; Dye ended up on the Oakland Athletics, while the Royals acquired shortstop Neifi Perez from the Colorado Rockies.