In his latest “Daily Gammons” column, Peter Gammons suggests several GMs expect the Giants to make a trade with the Rays for Ben Zobrist. Zobrist can play a variety of positions, having logged at least 1,000 defensive innings at second base, right field, and shortstop over his nine-year career, and would provide the Giants some sorely-needed depth.
If the Giants do wind up with Zobrist, they would likely put him in left field ahead of Gregor Blanco. He could also serve as a fill-in at third base when Casey McGehee gets a day off.
Zobrist, 33, is entering the final year of a contract signed with the Rays in April 2010. This past season, he batted .272/.354/.395 with 10 home runs, 52 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 654 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Zobrist has been worth at least 4.6 Wins Above Replacement in each of the past six seasons.
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?