Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic hears that the Mariners have expressed interest in trading for Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford as part of a swap that would send fellow shortstop Jean Segura to the National League. Nothing appears to be anywhere close to done just yet, however, as the Mariners are reportedly talking to multiple clubs about their All-Star shortstop and would need him to waive his full no-trade clause in order to approve any potential deal.
Crawford, meanwhile, has yet to break out at the major league level. The 23-year-old finished his sophomore season in Philadelphia with a mediocre .214/.319/.393 batting line, three home runs, and a .712 OPS across 138 plate appearances, though his numbers played up a bit during his rehab stint in Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He also dealt with his first significant setback after fracturing his left hand on a hit-by-pitch in mid-June, and was subsequently limited to just six starts during the second half of the season.
While the Phillies have maintained interest in adding Segura (and closer Edwin Díaz, prior to Seattle’s pending deal with the Mets) to their roster this offseason, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia adds that they have no apparent intent to abandon their pursuit of free agent infielder Manny Machado. If a Mariners-Phillies deal comes to fruition over the next several months, expect the Phillies to make a play for Machado with the intent to shift him over to third base.
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?