Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. is headed to the 10-day disabled list with right elbow discomfort, according to a team announcement on Sunday. McCullers was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 14-0 blowout over the Dodgers after feeling tightness in his forearm and elbow and was scheduled to meet with team doctors in Houston on Sunday. The severity of his injury has yet to be determined, but he’s likely to be out of commission for some time.
Prior to his removal from the game, the 24-year-old righty helped shut out the Dodgers through four innings, allowing two hits, two walks and five strikeouts on 60 pitches. He’s 10-6 in 22 starts this season with a 3.93 ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 9.9 SO/9 across 126 innings so far. While this is his first formal DL stint of the year, he also dealt with some elbow soreness back in 2016 and missed almost nine weeks of the season as a result.
In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Roberto Osuna has been reinstated from the restricted list and will assume McCullers’ place on the roster. Osuna received a 75-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on domestic violence back in June.
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?