The Padres payroll could surpass $100 million this season

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The Padres had a club record $90.1 million payroll last season, but the team currently projects to be around $89 million for 2015 even after a very active offseason from new general manager A.J. Preller. Part of this is because the Dodgers are paying the great majority of Matt Kemp’s salary for this season. However, they might not be done making moves.

Team chairman Ron Fowler recently indicated to Dennis Lin of UT-San Diego that Preller still has some wiggle room with his budget, which could push the payroll over $100 million:

In an email to the U-T, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler confirmed a general payroll range for 2015: It will open above last season’s figure and could top out at a little more than $100 million.

Fowler added an important disclaimer: “However, with A.J. in the GM seat, things could change quickly. He continues to look at options to strengthen the team.”

First-year general manager A.J. Preller has landed an unprecedented haul of right-handed power, remaking baseball’s worst offense while keeping the pitching staff largely intact. Yet his most resourceful maneuvering occurred within the financial parameters of those deals; as of Feb. 5, the Padres’ payroll projects to open at roughly $89 million, a tick under the 2014 figure. (If a trade partner is found for Carlos Quentin, the club could trim a couple million or so.)

As for what could push the Padres over $100 million, many have begun to consider them the favorites to land free agent right-hander James Shields. They have also expressed interest in a trade for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. One non-pitcher possibility is Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, who Preller recently scouted while in the Dominican Republic.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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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?