Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees have signed veteran outfielder Juan Rivera to a minor-league deal, bringing him in as a potential right-handed bench bat.
Last offseason Rivera got $4 million in guaranteed money from the Dodgers, who ended up buying out his 2013 option for $500,000 after he hit just .244 with nine homers and a .661 OPS in 109 games.
Once upon a time Rivera was a decent regular who thrived against left-handed pitching, but he’s always been sub par defensively and has never fared particularly well versus right-handers. And in the past three seasons he hit just .270 with a .763 OPS against lefties, so at age 34 it’s not even clear he’s a good part-time option considering the Yankees also have Matt Diaz and Russ Canzler to fill the same role.
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?