Via our own Craig Calcaterra–who took off early today to see “Ant Man” and is still breaking news–the Pirates have acquired third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Brewers.
Ramirez began his career in Pittsburgh, debuting in 1998 as a 20-year-old and playing six seasons for the Pirates. He returns at age 37 with the hopes of putting together a good second half before potentially retiring after the season.
Ramirez was long one of the best, most underrated right-handed hitters in baseball, but he’s hit just .247 with 11 homers and a .725 OPS in 81 games this season. Of course, even that modest production would help the Pirates with infielders Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison on the disabled list.
In exchange for Ramirez the Brewers receive minor leaguer Yhonathan Barrios, a 23-year-old converted infielder now pitching at Triple-A as a reliever with modest success.
I hope Calcaterra bought himself a large popcorn with extra butter or something.
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?