The Royals signed free agent right-hander Homer Bailey to a minor league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training and will reportedly allow the starter to opt out by March 25.
While Bailey exclusively pitched for the Reds over the first 12 years of his career, he was traded to the Dodgers last December as part of a package deal for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer. He was dumped shortly thereafter, though the Dodgers are still expected to foot the $23 million bill for the remainder of his contract under the Reds.
Exactly what the Royals can expect to receive in 2019, meanwhile, is less certain. The 32-year-old right-hander has been plagued by constant injuries over the last five years, from chronic knee inflammation to bone spurs in his elbow, and even when healthy, has failed to produce anything close to the career-high numbers he posted back in 2013. He hit an all-time low in 2018 after pitching to a 1-14 record in 20 starts with a 6.09 ERA, 2.8 BB/9, 6.3 SO/9, and -0.2 fWAR through 106 1/3 innings.
The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli reports that the Nationals will pay their minor leaguers $300 per week through the end of June. MLB agreed to pay all minor leaguers $400 per week through today, May 31. Many teams have extended that by at least a month. Some, like the Marlins, Padres, and Mariners, have committed to paying their minor leaguers beyond that.
Ghiroli also notes that the Nationals cut more than 30 minor leaguers, as there will almost certainly not be a minor league season this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It is interesting that the Nationals are only offering $300 per week as opposed to the standard $400 weekly. If we assume that the Nationals’ organization has 275 minor leaguers, they will save $110,000 in August by offering $100 less. The Nationals are coming off of winning a championship. While the Nationals haven’t experienced as much of a boon as other champions due to the unfortunate timing, their owner still has a net worth north of $4 billion. The Nats’ franchise value is approximately $2 billion, per Forbes. No, it’s not all liquid, but $110,000 is change that gets lost between the couch cushions for this and many other franchises.
Players are taking note of which teams take care of their players and other personnel, and which are not. The teams that continued to pay minor leaguers, kept staff paid and on board, and helped in other ways will have a better time going forward of attracting and retaining talent both in terms of players and front office personnel (including scouts). While teams should pay their players out of a sense of morality, there is a competitive advantage to doing so as well.