Tim Stauffer’s minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A hasn’t been going very well, with reports of mid-80s fastball velocity and lots of hits allowed, but the Twins have decided to activate the 33-year-old reliever from the disabled list anyway.
Stauffer was placed on the DL with an intercostal strain last month after allowing 10 runs in 10 innings for the Twins. In his last two rehab appearances at Triple-A he struck out one, walked two, allowed opponents to go 6-for-12 (.500) off him, and reportedly topped out at 87 miles per hour.
Minnesota has the ability to keep him in the minors longer on the rehab assignment, so the decision to put him back on the active roster now is an odd one. Stauffer is owed $2.2 million on a one-year deal signed this offseason.
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?