MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch had the awful news first:
The MRI on RHP Ivan Nova last night has revealed a partial tear of ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. He will be placed on the disabled list today and will be further examined tomorrow in New York by Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad.
A torn UCL (even a partially-torn one) pretty much always leads to Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, which would sideline Nova through the early part of the 2015 season. He posted an impressive 3.10 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings last summer for the Yankees but had surrendered 32 hits and 19 earned runs in 20 2/3 frames this year.
The 27-year-old joins a long list of high-profile pitchers who have suffered torn elbow ligaments in 2014. Some of those names: Matt Moore of the Rays, Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks, Kris Medlen of the Braves, Jarrod Parker of the A’s, Brandon Beachy of the Braves, and Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon.
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?