David Kaplan is reporting that the Cubs have approached starter Jeff Samardzija to get the ball rolling on a contract extension. The right-hander, who turns 29 in January, can become a free agent after the 2015 season.
Samardzija wrapped up 2013 with a 4.34 ERA in a career-high 213.2 innings of work, his second year as a full-time starter.
The Cubs opened up the 2013 season with a payroll near $107 million and have over $49 committed already for the 2014 season. However, when Alfonso Soriano’s salary comes off the books after the upcoming season, the Cubs will have plenty of room to fit in Samardzija’s new deal, should they reach a consensus.
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?