Some reinforcements are on the way for the Wild Card-leading Pirates, as manager Clint Hurdle told Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this afternoon that both Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer could return from the disabled list for this weekend’s series against the Giants.
Harrison, who has been out since since July 5 with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, is 1-for-19 (.053) over his first five minor league rehab games with Triple-A Indianapolis. Mercer, out since July 19 with a MCL sprain in his left knee and a leg contusion, is 3-for-17 (.176) through five games.
The Pirates are going to have a bit of a log jam when Harrison and Mercer return, as Aramis Ramirez and Jung Ho Kang have held down the left side of the infield of late. But it’s nice to have options. Harrison can also play the outfield if need be.
The Pirates enter play tonight at 71-47, four games in front of the Cubs for the first Wild Card spot and five games behind the first-place Cardinals in the National League Central.
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?