Right-hander Tyson Ross has been claimed off waivers by the Cardinals, the teams announced Sunday. A corresponding move will be made on Monday when Ross is officially added to the roster. He’s expected to join the Cardinals as they kick off another road series in Miami.
Ross, 31, signed a minors pact with the Padres in the offseason and was guaranteed a $1.75 million base salary after cracking the major-league roster. He posted a 6-9 record in 22 starts with a 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.8 SO/9 through 123 1/3 innings, though his numbers began to balloon after a handful of rough starts during his last month with the team.
Even so, the righty is owed just over $500,000 for the remainder of the 2018 season, making the claim a no-brainer for the Cardinals. They currently sit 7.5 games back of the division lead in the NL Central, but will need to continue strengthening a weakened rotation if they intend to make a serious run at the postseason, especially with Michael Wacha not yet cleared to throw, Adam Wainwright still dealing with elbow inflammation and the oft-injured Carlos Martinez recently sidelined with a shoulder strain.
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?