Royals place Jason Vargas on disabled list with elbow injury

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Royals left-hander Jason Vargas is headed to the disabled list with a strained flexor tendon.

Vargas was off to a rough start this season, posting a 5.26 ERA through five outings, but he tossed six innings of two-run ball against the Indians on Wednesday. And now the Royals will hold their breath waiting to see if the injury leads to Tommy John elbow surgery in the second season of a four-year, $32 million deal.

Journeyman right-hander Yohan Pino takes Vargas’ spot on the roster, Chris Young figures to take his spot in the rotation, and Kansas City will likely be relying on its fantastic bullpen even more than before.

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?