Taijuan Walker makes first minor league rehab start

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Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker was forced to begin the season on the disabled list after he fell behind this spring with right shoulder inflammation, but he’s inching closer to joining the big club.

According to Robert Emrich of MiLB.com, Walker struck out seven batters over 4 1/3 innings last night in a minor league rehab start with High-A High Desert. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk and was pulled in the fifth inning after he reached his pitch count at 75. While the Mariners figure to have him make a couple more starts in the minors, he should beat Hisashi Iwakuma back from the disabled list.

Walker made three starts down the stretch last year and was ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the game by Baseball America in February. He possesses top-of-the-rotation potential.

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?