Braves trade Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Padres

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Happy Opening Day, everyone. To celebrate, the Padres have made another gigantic trade. Kiley McDaniels of FanGraphs was the first to report that the Braves have traded closer Craig Kimbrel and outfielder Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Padres in exchange for pitching prospect Matt Wisler, minor league outfielder Jordan Paroubeck (link), outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, and the 41st overall pick (per ESPN’s Keith Law).

The Padres were the only team yet to submit a 25-man roster and this is why. They had a glut of outfielders and cleared it up with this trade to the Braves. The Padres also reunite the Upton brothers.

Kimbrel had signed a four-year, $42 million extension last February but the Braves are going deeper into a rebuilding mode. Given the fickle nature of relievers, Kimbrel’s price tag, and the Braves’ unlikelihood of being competitive for a little while, it does make sense for them to deal the fireballer. Since debuting in 2010, Kimbrel has a career 1.43 ERA with 186 saves and a 476/108 K/BB ratio in 289 innings.

Upton had $46.35 million and three years remaining on a five-year, $75.25 million deal signed with the Braves in November 2012. In two seasons with the Braves, the 30-year-old ranked among baseball’s least productive players with a .593 OPS and -1.6 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball Reference.

Both Maybin (28) and Quentin (32) had been pushed out of the picture as the Padres completely revamped their outfield with the off-season trades to acquire Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers. Maybin has $16 million over two years remaining on his contract. Quentin has $8 million remaining just for the 2015 season before becoming eligible for free agency. [Update: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the Braves plan to designate Quentin for assignment. They acquired him simply to balance out the money involved.]

Wisler, 22, reached Triple-A for the first time last season, finishing with a 5.01 ERA and a 101/36 K/BB ratio over 116 2/3 innings in El Paso. MLB.com rated him the organization’s top pitching prospect, fourth overall in the system, and 70th among baseball’s top 100 prospects.

Paroubeck, 20, played his first professional season last year after being taken by the Padres in the second round of the 2013 draft. In 157 plate appearances, the outfielder batted .286/.346/.457.

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?