Mets manager Terry Collins gave some fairly optimistic quotes Monday regarding third baseman David Wright’s return timetable for spinal stenosis, but when general manager Sandy Alderson was asked about it later he downplayed the optimism.
Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post that there’s been “no change” in Wright’s status and he’s not ready to resume baseball activities yet. Wright has been out since mid-April and will almost surely require a lengthy minor-league rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list, so he may simply run out of time to play again this season.
Daniel Murphy has shifted from second base to third base in Wright’s absence, with Wilmer Flores shifting from shortstop to second base and Ruben Tejada taking over at shortstop. There’s also been some speculation that the Mets could make a trade for a veteran third baseman, with Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers being a possibility.
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?