Melvin Roman, the Puerto Rico-based agent for Korean third baseman Jeong Choi, told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports on Sunday that his client is seriously considering leaving the KBO’s SK Wyverns after the 2014 season. “He has a strong desire to come and play in the major leagues,” Roman said.
Choi, who has been compared to Mets star David Wright for his good looks and well-rounded skillset, hit 28 home runs with a .429 on-base percentage and .551 slugging percentage in 2013 for SK Wyverns.
The 27-year-old has managed an OPS over .900 in four straight Korean Baseball Organization seasons.
Heyman suspects that the Diamondbacks, White Sox, and Red Sox could all be in the market for a big-time third baseman next winter — along with the Padres and Giants. Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, and Aramis Ramirez are among the current major league third basemen headed for the free agent market.
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?