LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins have given the final spot in their starting rotation to pitching prospect Kyle Gibson. Gibson, 26, has been listed as one of baseball’s top-100 prospects going into the 2010, 2011, and 2013 seasons by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.
The rotation as a whole will include Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, and Gibson. Vance Worley, last season’s Opening Day starter, was placed on waivers and then outrighted to Triple-A Rochester when no one claimed him. Sam Deduno, who was also competing for a rotation spot, will start the season in the bullpen and serve as a spot starter.
Last year at Triple-A, Gibson posted a 2.92 ERA in 101 2/3 innings. He struck out 87 and unintentionally walked 33.
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?