The Rays reportedly have Ben Zobrist on the block and he would make sense for just about anybody, but especially for a team who has World Series aspirations like the Nationals. However, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that Washington is “not actively pursuing” a trade for the versatile veteran.
The Nationals are currently looking at some combination of Danny Espinosa and Dan Uggla for second base, so there was a clear need even before today, but a deal makes even more sense now that Jayson Werth needs shoulder surgery and will be sidelined for 2-3 months. Zobrist would also be good insurance for Bryce Harper, who has dealt with all sorts of injuries early on in his career. The Rays want a huge return, which isn’t easy for teams to swallow since Zobrist is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season, but Rosenthal ultimately believes that the Nationals should reconsider their position. It’s hard to argue with him.
Zobrist, who turns 34 in March, batted .272/.354/.395 with 10 home runs, 52 RBI, and 10 stolen bases over 146 games last season while making starts at second base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions.
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?