1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports that the Dodgers are expected to sign pitcher Scott Baker to a minor league deal, pending a physical. Baker was released by the Yankees on Sunday. He allowed nine runs on 14 hits with a 10/0 K/BB ratio over 10 1/3 innings in Grapefruit League play this spring.
The Dodgers are light in terms of starting pitching depth as Hyun-Jin Ryu will start the season on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder. Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson also have spotty health histories. With that known, it’s understandable why the Dodgers will sign Baker and already have signed veteran Freddy Garcia to a minor league deal.
Baker made eight starts and 17 relief appearances for the Rangers last season, posting a 5.47 ERA with a 55/14 K/BB ratio over 80 2/3 innings. Coming up with the Twins, Baker always had a lot of promise, but could rarely stay healthy for an entire season. He underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012.
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?