The Milwaukee Brewers have optioned reliever Corey Knebel to Triple-A Colorado Springs. A mere year ago he was an All-Star. Life comes at you fast.
Knebel has posted a 5.08 ERA this year and was demoted from closer duties. His August has been particularly brutal, with him allowing eight earned runs — nine total — in eight and a third innings. accumulating an 8.64 ERA in his 8.1 innings over 9 games. Last year he saved 39 games and posted a 1.78 ERA in 76 games.
Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress handle closer’s duties in his absence. He’ll likely be back with the club when rosters expand on September 1. Until then he’ll be working on some stuff.
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?