There has been a lot of talk surrounding the Kansas City Royals and their pursuit of a front line starting pitcher this Winter. They’ve been in on, or at least rumored to have been in on, the likes of Anibal Sanchez and Ryan Dempster as free agents, plus have been engaged in trade talks involving James Shields and Jon Lester.
According to a report from Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, however, don’t expect much of anything to happen if it means adding to the KC payroll.
That reduces the break-even point for the 25-man roster – the figure generally used for comparison purposes in public discussions – to roughly $57 million. The draft and international limits under the new labor agreement comprise about $10 million.
It also means, as things currently stand, the Royals are already over budget since the projected payroll for their 25-man roster is roughly $65 million.
Royals owner David Glass wants to keep the entire cost of player salaries on the 40-man roster, plus the international and draft monies under $70 million in total, so as Dutton notes, they have already gone roughly $8 million beyond that figure.
Glass, according to Dutton’s report, has routinely subsidized the team’s payroll in order to finance money for a player needed to help the team contend. Considering that Kansas City is the only AL club in the past six seasons to not have at least one winning record, things haven’t been going as planned in that area.
Assuming this information is true, Glass would have already agreed to subsidize money to pay for the Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie deals. It seems pretty darn unlikely that a guy who claims to have lost many millions while owning the Royals would agree to spend another $10-15 million out of his own pocket to add another pitcher.
The Royals have been near the bottom of the league in attendance for a while now, as it happens when the team is perennial losers, and their television contract is only valued at about $20 million per year, among the lowest in the league, so the Glass family doesn’t have a the kind of revenue streams enjoyed by many other clubs. Forbes magazine estimated that Glass profited roughly $100 million during the decade of 2001-2010, but major league baseball has always maintained the Forbes numbers were flawed.
Regardless of whether you believe Mr. Glass has made money on the team or lost it, this report certainly indicates that there will not be a willingness to drastically increase the payroll any time soon. And that probably means that all the talk about landing an ace is just that: talk.