Right-handed reliever Blake Parker has been non-tendered by the Angels, per an official report on Friday. The team also cut ties with oft-injured veteran starter Matt Shoemaker, who made just seven appearances in the majors during the 2018 season.
It’s an unexpected move coming from the Angels, who enjoyed a solid performance from the 33-year-old closer this past year. Coming off of a career-best run in 2017, Parker delivered 14 saves in 41 save opportunities with a 3.26 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, and 9.5 SO/9 through 66 1/3 innings.
This offseason, he was projected to earn something in the ballpark of $3 million through arbitration, a modest bump from the $1.8 million he took home in 2018. Although he shaved a couple miles off of his fastball and failed to reach the 80-strikeout threshold of years past, the righty has been consistent and dominant enough that he should have no issue latching onto another major-league deal in the months to come.
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?