Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have signed right-handed relief pitcher Cody Hall to a minor league deal. Hall elected free agency from the Giants last month, splitting his season between their Double-A affiliate and the independent Atlantic League Lancaster Barnstormers in his first year without a single major league outing.
The 29-year-old reliever last appeared in the big leagues during the 2016 season, logging just three innings (and a 12.00 ERA) with the Marlins before getting jettisoned in mid-August. He was given a longer leash in the minors last season, turning in a cumulative 3.09 ERA, 4.5 BB/9 and 12.0 SO/9 in 43 2/3 innings for Richmond and Lancaster.
The bullpen is still a big question mark for the Rays as they look toward the 2018 season, with Brad Boxberger, Steve Cishek, Sergio Romo and Tommy Hunter already gone and Alex Colome likely on the chopping block. Hall could find a few innings as a depth piece, but appears unlikely to latch onto a full-time role with limited major league experience under his belt.
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?