As expected, free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan held a throwing session for teams today as he attempts to land a contract in his return from Tommy John and flexor tendon surgeries. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was told by someone who attended the session that he “looked great.”
It would probably be easier to list who wasn’t at Hanrahan’s throwing session today, as Marc Carig of New York Newsday reports that 18-20 teams were on hand. The Mets were among them and could be a good fit for potential save opportunities, as Bobby Parnell is done for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and Jose Valverde might not have much left in the tank. While Hanrahan is making progress with his rehab, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star hears that he might not be ready until June.
Hanrahan, 32, made nine appearances with the Red Sox last season prior to undergoing surgery. He saved 76 games for the Pirates from 2011-2012.
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?