Great Moments in the Hot Stove League: When the Yankees passed on Miguel Cabrera

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I saw this floating around Twitter over the past several days It’s loads of fun. From the New York Daily News in November 2007, talking about the Yankees and Marlins and a trade for Miguel Cabrera that never happened:

Brian Cashman met with the Marlins at about 6 p.m. last night at the GM meetings. No offers were made, but a source with knowledge of the situation said the Marlins made it clear that the Yankees would have to include either Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Ian Kennedy in any trade for Cabrera, something the Yankees are not willing to do. The Yankees would likely offer a deal involving their next tier of prospects, which includes Alan Horne, Humberto Sanchez, Ross Ohlendorf and Jose Tabata.

This came right after Alex Rodriguez opted-out of his $250 million deal and was a free agent. The Yankees, of course, signed him to his current $275 million deal a little over a month later.  In the meantime, they could have traded off, say, Joba Chamberlain for the current two-time MVP and could have let Rodriguez dangle.

That sounds awesome now. But at the time people thought Chamberlain, Hughes and Kennedy were the cat’s meow. And Miguel Cabrera, while clearly a huge talent, wasn’t quite what he is now in most people’s minds. And of course Alex Rodriguez was the best player in the game who, two short years later, would lead the Yankees to their last World Series title.

So, yes, it stings now. But at the time it wasn’t a crazy line of reasoning on Cashman’s part. And while people say hindsight is 20/20, in reality, it’s not. Hindsight obscures a lot of stuff we knew back then — or at least thought we knew back then — but have since forgotten.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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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?