Last week the Brewers exercised their half of Aramis Ramirez’s mutual option for 2015 and today the third baseman did the same, so he’ll stay in Milwaukee for $14 million next season.
It makes sense for both sides. That’s a hefty price tag and Ramirez’s production dipped this season, but he still hit .285 with 15 homers and a .757 OPS in 133 games and the one-year commitment limits the Brewers’ risk. Plus, the cost to buy him out was $4 million.
From his point of view, it would have been tough to secure a big multi-year contract on the open market as a 36-year-old free agent and getting more than $14 million on a one-year deal was hardly a sure bet.
In three seasons for the Brewers he’s hit a combined .291 with an .834 OPS and Ramirez has totaled 2,186 hits–including 369 homers–in 17 seasons as a big leaguer for Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
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?