Phil Miller of the Star Tribune reports that the Twins made starter José Berríos a contract extension offer this winter, but the right-hander and his agent declined. The Twins renewed his contract at slightly more than the $555,000 major league minimum salary.
Berríos said on Wednesday, “Every player wants to sign a multiyear deal, but we know it’s a business. I have to manage my business, too. … We’re waiting for the best for both sides. If it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year.”
Berríos, 24, will enter his first of three years of arbitration eligibility after the 2019 season. He has impressed over his two full seasons in the majors, posting a 3.89 ERA in 2017 and a 3.84 ERA last year. He also struck out 202 batters against 61 walks in 192 1/3 innings in last season’s All-Star-worthy campaign.
The Twins extended both Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco exactly one month ago. Kepler agreed to a five-year, $35 million deal while Polanco inked a five-year, $25.75 million pact.
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?