The Minnesota Twins signed two free agent pitchers just before the end of 2019, inking Rich Hill and Homer Bailey to one-year deals.
Hill, who will turn 40 during spring training, is still recovering from “primary and revision surgery” on his left elbow he underwent back in October and won’t be ready for the start of the 2020 season. It’s most likely that, barring setbacks, he’ll be ready to go at or maybe just before the All-Star break.
Despite that, Hill should be able to help the Twins. He dealt with a flexor strain during the 2019 campaign but still posted a 2.45 ERA with excellent peripherals over 13 starts with the Dodgers. Basically, when he felt good he was still effective, when he didn’t, he couldn’t go. Given that he wasn’t losing it when he could pitch, there is reason to believe that he will be an asset for Rocco Baldelli in the second half of the season.
Bailey, 33, posted a 4.57 ERA (99 ERA+) and 149/53 K/BB ratio over 163.1 innings between the Royals and Athletics this past season. He was basically a league average innings eater, capable of some good starts here and there, but a back-end guy at best for a contender like Minnesota. After all of these years, you basically know what you’re gonna get with Bailey.
Which, hey, both he and Hill can help the Twins. And it’s not super hard to imagine a rotation with José Berríros, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda and those two being pretty decent in 2020. But in an offseason in which many expected Minnesota to make a big splash with a big addition to the rotation – a true front line starter — this is somewhat underwhelming.
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?