As of today it’s been exactly one month since Justin Verlander left a spring training start with a triceps strain and there’s still no timetable for his return from the first disabled list stint of his career.
Repeatedly called a minor injury by both Verlander and the team, it’s bad enough that he hasn’t thrown since cutting short a bullpen session 10 days ago due to “fatigue.”
Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that Verlander is wearing a compression sleeve on his arm “to try to promote healing” and “won’t throw until he’s not only pain-free, but free of soreness.”
And because he’s been out for so long, a minor-league rehab assignment will almost surely be required before Verlander can reasonably be expected to start games for the Tigers. In other words: It’s going to be a while.
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?