OK, so the White Sox-Cubs game isn’t even over yet, but I had to write something about this. Cubs backup catcher Dioner Navarro, who’s making a rare start in place of Welington Castillo, has homered three times in three at-bats. Navarro walked in his other plate appearance and has driven in a total of six runs.
Just to put that in some context, Navarro has a lifetime .357 slugging percentage and his career-high is nine homers, which he hit in 2007 while logging 434 plate appearances in 119 games. During the past four seasons he has a total of 11 homers in 476 plate appearances spread over 160 games.
Yet today he took John Danks deep twice from the right side of the plate and then hit a shot off reliever Brian Omogrosso from the left side of the plate. And in doing so Navarro joins John Buck earlier this season and Victor Martinez in 2004 as the only catchers to homer three times in a game during the past decade.
What a world.
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?