Update (5:05 PM ET): The trade is official as both teams have announced the deal.
The Orioles’ sell-off continues apace. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the O’s are trading reliever Brad Brach to the Braves. The O’s will receive international slot money in exchange for Brach, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Brach, 32, has pitched to a 4.85 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 19 walks in 39 innings this season. This is the worst season of Brach’s career, but he has a track record of being a very dependable reliever, so that is likely what intrigued the Braves. From 2013-17, Brach pitched 319 2/3 innings and compiled a 2.79 ERA with 336 strikeouts and 133 walks.
The Braves, who won today and sit just 1.5 games behind the first-place Phillies, bolster their bullpen with the addition of Brach. Entering Sunday, the Braves’ collective bullpen ERA of 4.25 was 19th-best in baseball. Closer Arodys Vizcaino has been on the disabled list since mid-June, so Brach could handle some save situations with his new team.
Brach is eligible for free agency after the season, so this is purely a rental for the Braves.
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?