One of the biggest questions going into winter is: Do the Kansas City Royals have the money to pay any of the four core free agents? Let’s dig into the team’s current financial situation to see.
When the era of Kansas City Royals playoff excitement and expectations started, the team salary was 21st in the league at $87,998,434. Every year since, the team salary has increased—substantially. By the end of the 2017 season, the Royals finished with the 13th highest salary at $158,275,155.
The question is, are the Kansas City Royals going to continue at a salary that high? Or are they going to have to make significant cuts? Dayton Moore has already come out and said that the team will have to re-evaluate how much money they spend in 2018 and beyond.
Does re-evaluating mean going back to below or right at $100 million, or will they stay close to where they are now? Before we go into hypotheticals, let’s look at the logistics of the team.
2018 Known Salary
Currently, we know what nine players will make:
- Alex Gordon: $20M
- Ian Kennedy: $16M (he has already said he would be “dumb” not to pick up his option)
- Danny Duffy: $14M
- Jason Hammel: $9M
- Joakim Soria: $9M (save your judgement)
- Salvador Perez: $8.7M
- Brandon Moss: $7.25M
- Jorge Soler: $4M
- Drew Butera: $2.3M
This all equals out to $90.25 million. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Royals still have three players they are paying not to play for them:
- Travis Wood: $6.5M
- Omar Infante: $2M (yes, they are still paying him to not be there)
- Chris Young: $1.5M
This equals out to another $10 million the Kansas City Royals have to pay for players to not be there. With nine spots figured out, let’s figure out how the other 16 spots on the payroll will be filled.
Arbitration Eligible Players
The one thing the Kansas City Royals have going for them is the number of players that are arbitration eligible. The hope with this is that the players will be relatively cheap and not have a huge financial impact on the team.
This list includes players that are in arbitration and a rough guess as to what they will make, according to MLB Trade Rumors:
This is roughly another $14.2 million, but that is only for 13 of the 25 spots. So where does that put the additional 12 spots on the 25-man roster?
Team Controlled Players
I’m sure you are wondering where some of the players fit that haven’t been mentioned yet. This is where the cheap contracts come into play. The players listed are designated under “team control,” meaning they are going to get a contract that is near the league minimum for three years.
This is the part of the contract that comes before arbitration. This is where a significant chunk of the team lands. (The numbers are based on 2017 salaries, which are similar to their 2016 salaries.)
- Paulo Orlando: $558,250
- Cheslor Cuthbert: $552,250
- Ryan Buchter: $544,700
- Whit Merrifield: $543,750 (how big of a steal is this?)
- Raul Mondesi: $537,250
- Kevin McCarthy: $535,000
- Scott Alexander: $535,000 (again, another steal)
If these players make roughly the same amount, that will be about $3.8 million combined for these seven players. Not too bad.
Players Not Named
Some of the players are still working on year-to-year deals because they technically have not reached “rookie status” or have not been on the 25-man roster for 172 days. This list is a little shorter.
- Jake Junis: $535,000
- Ramon Torres: $535,000
- Eric Skoglund: $535,000
- Sam Gaviglio: $535,000
- Jorge Bonifacio: $535,000
These five received the absolute minimum a player could get last year, which comes out to be $2.675 million combined.
Players With Options
The Kansas City Royals have two players that have either mutual-options (Mike Minor) or player-options (Kennedy) that need to be taken into consideration, as well. Kennedy is already up on the original nine players, because he has made it clear that he will be staying with the Royals.
Minor is another story. It is unclear as to what he will do. If Minor stays, then the Kansas City Royals will owe him $10 million. If he decides to leave the team and go into free agency, then the Royals will owe him $1.25 million in buyout money.
This 25-Man Salary
Combining all these players creates a 25-man roster (not including Minor). When you take all the salaries and combine them, the team payroll is $120.925 million. Depending on who you talk to and their opinion, this is significantly lower than what it will end up being. Unfortunately, this doesn’t take into consideration the addition of a player like Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas or Alcides Escobar.
What Does This All Mean?
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As of right now, it is safe to say that this team is already spending a substantial amount of money, and they haven’t even had a chance to work out contracts with Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain or Escobar.
The only thing that could save them—and allow them to sign one or two of the free agents—is that in 2019, they currently have a base team salary of $66.95 million after they cut Hammel, Soria and Moss. A new TV contract will also be negotiated, which means more money for the team.
At the end of the day, it is 100 percent in the hands of team owner David Glass. If he wants to cut costs and completely rebuild, I don’t see how the Kansas City Royals bring any free agent back other than Escobar. If Glass decides to partly rebuild, then the Royals might stand a chance of bringing back someone other than Escobar.
As rumors begin to fly, it will be interesting to see how the Kansas City Royals and fans respond.