We learned last week that second baseman Dan Uggla played through the 2014 season with an undiagnosed concussion. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provided more details about how the concussion affected Uggla.
Uggla had trouble picking up the rotation on the ball, so he decided to get Lasik eye surgery. He had 20/15 vision. Doctors, however, found that when Uggla moved his head or body, his vision deteriorated to 20/100 — known as oculomotor dysfunction. This both explains his poor performance at the plate and his poor defense in the field.
The Nationals signed Uggla to a minor league contract on the day after Christmas. The second baseman, who turns 35 in March, will try to rebound from an aggregate .617 OPS in 694 at-bats since the start of the 2013 season. He’ll battle Danny Espinosa for the Nationals’ second base job.
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?