With Clayton Kershaw still a solid rehab start away from rejoining the rotation and Julio Urias‘ role changing day by day, the Dodgers will call up No. 2 pitching prospect Jose De Leon on Saturday, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
The call couldn’t come at a better time for the Dodgers, who have been neck-and-neck with the Giants through August. They’re clinging to a 2.5-game lead heading into Friday, but with 19-year-old sometime-starter Urias looking like the most stable part of the rotation right now, adding another arm should help solidify their place in the division race and give them some much-needed depth heading into the postseason. De Leon carries a 2.61 ERA and 0.93 WHIP through 86 ⅓ innings in 2016, beefed up by an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 111/20.
Speaking of playoff finishes, the 24-year-old right-hander has some experience with that. He bulldozed his way through a 13-strikeout performance with Triple-A Oklahoma City last weekend, reaching a season-best strikeout total and helping the Oklahoma City Dodgers to their second consecutive division title. Sure, it’s not the pressure cooker of a Game 7 start in the World Series, but his ability to keep cool in a high stakes situation should come in handy as he transitions to the big leagues.
De Leon is expected to make his major league debut during Sunday’s series finale against the Padres.
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?