Earlier this week Pittsburgh added Matt Diaz to the outfield mix with a two-year, $4.25 million contract and now Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that the Pirates “are trying hard to deal” Ryan Doumit despite general manager Neal Huntington calling him the team’s starting right fielder just a few days ago.
Doumit made 91 of his 111 starts at catcher this year, but Chris Snyder is slated to start behind the plate in 2011 and Doumit was seemingly set to platoon in right field while serving as his backup.
However, according to Langosch the Pirates are aggressively shopping Doumit and “have made it known to other general managers that the club is willing to eat some of his salary.” He’s owed $5.1 million in 2011 and the Pirates also hold 2012 and 2013 team options for a total of $15.5 million.
Not so long ago Doumit was a very promising young catcher with a big bat, but his shaky defense behind the plate hasn’t been as easy to live with while he hit just .251 with a .728 OPS over the past two seasons. He’s a switch-hitter who’s never had much success versus lefties, but a career line of .272/.336/.461 versus righties could make him a decent option if the Pirates foot around half the bill.
Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.
The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.
Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.
While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.
Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?