John Hickey of the Mercury-News reports that Josh Reddick gave up his number 16 to Billy Butler when Country Breakfast signed with the A’s. The price? Not high: “For Reddick, giving up 16 wasn’t a major hardship, particularly since he got a new X-Box from Butler out of it as a token of appreciation.”
John Lackey gave Pat Neshek an autographed Babe Ruth ball when he was traded to the Cardinals last year. A.J. Burnett started a college fund for Daniel McCutchen’s kid in exchange for a number. Julio Borbon once gave Adrian Beltre his number for an expensive watch. Jim Thome gave Alexi Casilla a Rolex. My favorite of all time — which I mention whenever this comes up — was former Giants punter Jeff Feagles who got Plaxico Burress to pay for an outdoor kitchen at his vacation home in Phoenix in exchange for number 17 and — before that — got Eli Manning to send the Feagles’ family on a vacation to Florida in order to give up number 10.
So, in the grand scheme: an X-Box seems a bit . . . light.
I feel like the price was low, though, thanks to some psychology on Butler’s part. Read in the article how he talked about how it was such a duty — he even calls it an “unwritten rule” — for a player to give up his number to a guy with more service time. Which may very well be true, but the way in which Butler talks up that proposition for the article — like it’s a law — makes me wonder if Butler put that pitch to Reddick too. You know, to lean on him some.
And maybe he sold Reddick some undercoating too. Great deal on that undercoating.
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?