The Rockies are still pursuing free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds, per a report from Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The two have been linked since the start of the offseason, but don’t appear any closer to reaching an agreement as the club enters its final month of spring training.
Reynolds, 34, has already enjoyed two productive seasons with the Rockies in 2016 and 2017. He was inked to a minor league deal in advance of the 2017 season, then went on to slash .267/.352/.487 with 30 home runs and an .839 OPS in 593 plate appearances — numbers he hadn’t come close to putting up since his peak years with the Diamondbacks and Orioles from 2009-2011.
Before this offseason’s unusual stalemate, it looked like Reynolds was holding out for guaranteed money in 2018, a luxury he may no longer be able to afford as Opening Day draws near. On the other hand, there’s no question the Rockies could benefit from a proven veteran presence at first base, especially as they move toward the 2018 season with 23-year-old rookie Ryan McMahon as their only viable full-time candidate. At this point, it may just be a matter of seeing who blinks first.
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?