The Angels are down to three healthy starting pitchers after right-hander JC Ramirez left his latest start with forearm tightness in his pitching arm. Ramirez told reporters that he felt discomfort during warm-ups on Saturday, but managed to persevere through a 55-pitch outing anyway. He issued five walks, two hits and two runs in the first two innings of the game before making a hasty exit prior to the third.
The 29-year-old righty is expected to undergo a full evaluation on Sunday, at which point the team will get a clearer sense of the nature of his injury. This could be the second serious setback Ramirez has weathered in less than a year, given the way his 2017 season ended with a partial tear in his UCL last August. He underwent stem-cell therapy to treat the injury and appeared to make a full recovery in camp, though he hasn’t looked particularly solid in any of his outings so far this season. Prior to Saturday’s loss, he lasted just 4 2/3 innings against the Indians with five runs, two walks, three home runs and three strikeouts in his season debut.
Even if Ramirez gets a clean bill of health following Sunday’s evaluation, the Angels will likely be looking to pull reinforcements from Triple-A Salt Lake. It’s not too farfetched to assume they’ll want to take things slow with the veteran starter given his history of forearm issues, though the rotation has already been hampered by the loss of Andrew Heaney (left elbow inflammation) and Matt Shoemaker (right forearm strain) this spring.
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?