Another day, another Braves pitcher headed for Tommy John elbow surgery. This time it’s reliever Cory Gearrin, who has decided to go under the knife after getting three different opinions that confirmed his torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Gearrin suffered the injury late in spring training, although it’s hard not to trace his problems back to being worked extremely hard by manager Fredi Gonzalez early last season. At one point Gonzalez used Gearrin eight times in a ten-game span and the side-arming right-hander missed the whole second half with shoulder problems.
It’s a shame, because at age 28 he was finally ready to take on a full-time bullpen role after dominating at Triple-A for three seasons. And now he’ll miss the rest of this season and likely part of 2015 after joining teammates Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in needing Tommy John surgery.
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?