Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that, according to a source, Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle is considering retiring after this season. Buehrle’s four-year, $58 million contract expires at the conclusion of the season and he will become a free agent, creating a convenient ending point for a career.
Buehrle, 36, hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, however. He finished last season with a superb 3.39 ERA in 202 innings and has won both of his starts so far this season, allowing five runs in 12 innings.
Buehrle has accrued at least 200 innings in every season dating back to 2001. Those 14 seasons are by far the most in that span of time. Next in line, eight players have each had eight seasons of 200-plus innings since 2001: Justin Verlander, James Shields, Cliff Lee, Bronson Arroyo, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Javier Vazquez, and Livan Hernandez. In addition to being baseball’s resident innings-eater, Buehrle has made five All-Star teams and won four Gold Gloves.
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?