Alfonso Soriano’s second stint with the New York Yankees will end not with a bang but a whimper.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports that the veteran outfielder was designated for assignment on Sunday morning, clearing a roster spot for 28-year-old right-hander Bruce Billings.
Soriano was batting just .221/.244/.367 with six home runs and 71 strikeouts over 67 games this season for the Yankees. He’s on the final chapter of the massive eight-year, $136 million free agent contract that he signed with the Cubs in November 2006. The 38-year-old will likely pass through waivers unclaimed and then hit the free agent market. He could draw interest at that point as a bench bat.
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?