April 9, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Detailed view of baseball hats and gloves belonging to members of the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Oakland defeated Kansas City 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

How George Springer Could Impact the Kansas City Royals


Mar 13, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (79) bats in the third inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Small market teams managing a prospect’s service time is simply an unavoidable reality. In an attempt to gain an extra year of control, and to avoid having to go to arbitration with a player for a fourth time before free agency, teams routinely keep their top prospects down at AAA for a couple of months to delay that service clock. It is just expected. That is part of why it may have been surprising that the Royals did go with Yordano Ventura in the starting rotation instead of keeping him in Omaha for a couple of months to start the season.

Yet, this practice may be coming under fire from the player’s union. After George Springer rejected the Houston Astros offer of a seven year contract extension earlier this spring, the Astros sent Springer to their minor league camp. Such an action, in a vacuum makes sense, as Springer has under 300 at bats at the AAA level. However, his agent and the players union may look to file a grievance against such an action, feeling that the move is being done just to push back Springer’s service time.

Such an action, if it is actually pursued, could potentially lead to a slippery slope for the Royals and other small market teams. Should the player’s union actually determine that this is worth looking into, the Royals, and other teams, may need to find ways to justify sending players down to the minors. The statement that they need more time in the minors may no longer be enough. If a top prospect is hitting at a .550 rate in Spring Training, but has concerns over his service time, teams may begin to find it difficult to send that player back to the minors, even if more seasoning is needed.

It is certainly understandable that the player’s union and Springer’s agent would want to protect their client. They have an interest in making sure that Springer is able to earn as much as possible, as quickly as he can. Naturally, these players do not care about the finances of smaller market teams. They want as much money as possible, which makes perfect sense.

However, for the Royals, such actions could be disastrous. The Royals, with their limited payroll, need to massage the arbitration clock as much as possible to keep their top prospects around as long as they can. If the Royals, and other small market teams, become forced to justify such actions for reasons other than service time, that could have a dramatic impact upon their payroll going forward.

Even though this issue is specifically with the Houston Astros, it could potentially have a far reaching impact upon other smaller market teams. This is certainly a situation that could bear watching for us Royals fans going forward.

Tags: George Springer Kansas City Royals

  • jimfetterolf

    Might be interesting, but don’t think Springer will win, but do think the agent will use the grievance as a bargaining chip to up the extension, get a better deal. Union might try to address it in the next CBA.

  • moretrouble

    You raise an interesting point, Dave. Nice job of posting something on the issue. Regarding Ventura, I don’t believe the service clock issue had much relevance. I thought they were trying to avoid signing another FA for the rotation — which would amount to far more money than an extra year of arbitration for Ventura. But, you’re right — it is a balance — they’re trying to put together a playoff team on a limited amount of cash.

    • Dave Hill

      Thanks MT. I didn’t see anything looking at this from the angle of small market teams just trying to save a few bucks, so I thought it could be an interesting viewpoint. Glad you liked the post.

  • tgaletti

    Simple solution to this problem, though it will probably never happen : Rework the revenue sharing and install a salary cap !!!!!!!!

    • Dave Hill

      I think that, if a salary cap is instituted, a salary floor needs to be as well. This way, the Jeffrey Lorias of the world do not have a team with a $30 Million payroll and pocket the difference.

      • tgaletti

        Exactly, have a salary cap just like in the NFL !!!!

  • Mike Larson

    salary cap is needed,pull the espn contract ,rewrite a television deal where all teams are shown,not just the yankees,redsox,dodgers,and angels.

    • Kenneth Browning

      The players union will never go for a hard cap. There’s already a soft cap in place. Maybe Royals fans should go to more games instead of having their team in the bottom 5-6 in attendance numbers. You know, give your team more revenue to spend. The Royals payroll last year was around $80 million despite dismal attendance numbers. Imagine if the Royals averaged 30k people instead of 20, your owner may be willing to spend 100+ million. But no, it’s easier to blame the teams that spend. And what about teams like the Astros and Marlins who are barely spending what they already collect from revenue sharing?

  • unclejesse40

    If I really thought this was going to be a problem I just wouldn’t invite the guy to major league spring training.