Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the Twins are monitoring the situation of free agent left-hander Joe Saunders and could be interested in signing him if he is willing to take “a minimal deal.”
Saunders made $6.5 million with the Mariners last season, but he struggled to find much interest over the winter after putting up a 5.26 ERA and 107/61 K/BB ratio over 183 innings. The 32-year-old had a tryout last week with the Rangers, who are also on the lookout for rotation depth.
As of now, the Twins project to go with Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey for the first four spots in their starting rotation. Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, and Vance Worley, who are all out of options, will compete for the final spot this spring.
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?