Kansas City Royals owner David Glass used to be cheap. The guy that once demanded that the front office draft players that would sign for a $5,000 bonus after the 10th round, has now opened the purse strings.
Glass has become so willing to support his team on the field, that pundits regularly underestimate the KC Royals willingness to spend money to improve the team.
This winter, most analysts presumed that free-agent Alex Gordon was beyond the Kansas City Royals reach. When Gordon’s price declined to a quite reasonable $72 million over four years, most believed that general manager Dayton Moore didn’t have the resources to land another major free agent. Instead, Glass authorized Moore to guarantee $70 million for pitcher Ian Kennedy.
After Kennedy, Moore then gambled $7.25 million on recovering starter Mike Minor, who suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder. Now, the KC Royals are talking about renegotiating catcher Salvador Perez‘s contract—as well as resigning injured former closer Greg Holland, who is not scheduled to return from Tommy John surgery until 2017.
Nothing shows the changed circumstances in Kansas City more than the Mike Minor deal. Yes, the Kansas City Royals invested $8 million in Kris Medlen‘s recovery. But, Medlen’s Tommy John surgery has close to an 80% recovery rate. However, returning from shoulder surgery like Mike Minor is a much more doubtful proposition.
Shawn Newkirk at Royals Review determined that 66% pitchers that missed significant time due to shoulder injuries between 2012-14 never again pitched significant innings in the major leagues. Of the 44% that managed to return, 72% saw a 1.00 run increase to their Fielding Independent Pitching (which estimates “true ERA” by stripping out pitching performance related to defense).
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In short, the Mike Minor signing is a considerable gamble. Yet, the move shows substantial upside when you consider that league-average arms like Ian Kennedy and Mike Leake commanded $70 million (Kennedy) and $80 million (Leake) over five years this winter. If Minor, who is tentatively expected to be available by June, can regain his effectiveness, he’ll be a screaming bargain for a year-and-a-half of production.
That’s not the kind of deal that a skinflint approves.
The truth is that David Glass has completely changed his spots after hiring Dayton Moore as general manager in 2006. He allowed Moore to sign high-dollar free agents in Gil Meche and Jose Guillen. He approved Moore’s strategy of paying above-slot bonuses to good prospects that fell in the draft due to signability concerns, and has supported multiple moves to improve the on-field product when the Kansas City Royals showed their ability to win in the playoffs.
While the KC Royals are unlikely to become a player for mega-deals anytime soon, we would be foolish to ignore Moore’s recent assertions that he intends to keep his core together past 2017.
Over the last ten years, David Glass has shown his willingness to support a winner. Kansas City Royals fans should believe him.