As of the most recent All-Star game voting update eight Kansas City Royals were the AL’s leading vote-getters their respective positions.
There’s been a ton of discussion/argument about how that has happened, whether something needs to be changed, and what the overall impact will be, but here’s an interesting angle I hadn’t seen before: Bonus money.
Many players across MLB has bonuses built into their contracts for making the All-Star game and the Royals are no different. In fact, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that if the current voting stands and eight Royals are voted in as American League starters it could end up costing the Royals a total of $1.25 million in bonuses.
The organization, of course, is fully aware of the financial implications wrought by the surge of online support. The executives joke about it sometimes, as they too were caught off-guard by the waves of voting. General manager Dayton Moore cast the upcoming bill of bonuses as a badge of honor for the organization.
“Every single night, you pull hard for your players,” Moore said. “I hope they reach all their goals. I hope they reach all their bonuses. It’s good for them.”
McCullough details the bonuses for each player and in several cases the fallout would extend beyond this season by increasing future salaries and/or changing contractual terms. At minimum each player would receive an extra $50,000 and second baseman Omar Infante–who’s hitting .228 with a .547 OPS–would get an extra $500,000.
Ultimately $1.25 million isn’t much within the context of an MLB team. For instance, the Royals are paying $1.5 million to middle reliever Tim Collins and he had season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery in spring training. But the whole thing does add another layer of drama and weirdness to the voting story.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.