Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu underwent season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum, but Ken Gurnick of MLB.com notes that he revealed some interesting information during a press conference yesterday. Specifically, that the labrum tear was found in an MRI before he signed his six-year, $36 million contract with the Dodgers in December of 2012. Keep in mind that the team, under GM Ned Colletti, also paid a $25.7 million posting fee for exclusive negotiating rights with him.
Despite the labrum issue, Ryu managed a 3.17 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 56 starts from 2013-2014. That’s pretty darn impressive under the circumstances. He had a stint on the DL last April due to shoulder inflammation and also missed some time in September before returning for the playoffs, but he had been able to pitch through it until now. The tear is considered relatively minor, but shoulders can be tricky and it’s far from a guarantee that his rehab process will be trouble-free.
Ryu will be 29 next March and is still owed $7 million per season from 2016-2018.
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?