Yesterday Indians manager Terry Francona said that starter Danny Salazar is not going to be ready for the beginning of the season due to an inflammation in his right rotator cuff. He could begin throwing off a mound in a few days but doesn’t have enough time to get ready to start to begin the season.
Salazar is a considerable talent, but he’s never been able to stay healthy. He’s only pitched in 30 games once, back in 2015. Last season he was 5-6 with a 4.28 ERA in 23 games, 19 of which were starts. He did strike out 12.7 batters per nine innings, though, suggesting that he’s got it when he’s not hurt. Dude just can’t not stay un-hurt.
In his place in the rotation will go Mike Clevinger. Clevinger posted a 3.11 ERA (147 ERA+) with 137 strikeouts over 121.2 innings for the Tribe last season.
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?