KC Royals Midweek Musings: The startup talks begin

This week’s edition of KC Royals Midweek Musings examines startup talks, questions and issues, a former Royal pitching in South Korea, the upcoming draft and an ongoing simulation.

Some KC Royals Midweek Musings while anxiously awaiting news from the startup talks between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association:

The talks begin.  After owners signed off on Major League Baseball’s plan to restart baseball in July, talks began Tuesday between MLB and the Players Association. As of this writing, no agreements appear to have been reached and cbssports.com reported Tuesday night that MLB didn’t make any formal new compensation proposals. As previously discussed in Midweek Musings, and widely and extensively reported elsewhere, MLB is expected to demand salary concessions from the union beyond those previously agreed to.

The Players Association contends all compensation issues were resolved in an earlier agreement between it and MLB–if there is no baseball this year, players will receive only the pool previously agreed to, a $170 million pie to be sliced as the players see fit; if there is baseball, all players get paid a pro-rata share of their salaries based on the number of games played.

MLB appears to believe, however, that the parties agreed to discuss compensation further if conditions require any games to be played without fans–empty stadiums don’t generate revenue. The players view compensation tied to revenue as an unacceptable salary cap. Although pay apparently wasn’t on Tuesday’s table, it’s an issue that, without resolution, will almost assuredly block a startup.

According to the CBS report, Tuesday’s talks focused on health and safety issues that require agreement between management and labor and multi-level governmental approval.

It appears from several outlet reports that MLB proposes an 82-game season, expanded rosters, a drastically modified divisional play system based on geography and involving teams from both leagues playing in the same divisions, expanded playoff participation, and regular-season games being played in major league ballparks where possible.

(It remains to be seen how recent reports suggesting Kansas City is among COVID-19 locations to watch may affect the KC Royals’ ability to host 2020 games).

Player transactions in a short season.  A season cut almost in half may significantly impact player transactions. Will there be a midseason trade deadline? Will trades be allowed at all and, if so, will traded players be temporarily quarantined? Can other clubs sign a team’s released players?

Because banning trades at approximately the 40-game mark probably deprives clubs of meaningful sample sizes to sufficiently evaluate deals, MLB and the union would do well to prohibit trades for this season only. Such a prohibition would eliminate the need to quarantine players moving from one club to another and reduce attendant risks of additional COVID-19 exposure.

And those reasons would justify prohibiting released players from signing with new clubs, although the union would likely balk at such a ban.

Ben Lively.  I recently wrote about Aaron Brooks, a former Royal now pitching for KIA in the Korean Baseball Organization League. Brooks, however, isn’t the only ex-KC Royals hurler working in the KBO–Ben Lively, who appeared in six games for the club across 2018-19, is with the Samsung Lions. He’s 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

Lively was 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA in five 2018 games with Kansas City and gave up three runs in one inning in 2019 before the Diamondbacks purchased him in late June.

Shortened amateur draft.  After much speculation, MLB reportedly will hold its annual amateur draft during June; however, rounds will be slashed from 40 to five. Teams can sign as many undrafted players as they wish for $20,000 apiece.

Round and signing limits will, of course, drastically reduce the number of players who sign for significant sums. Expect speculation connecting the restrictions to MLB’s previously announced intentions to contract the minor league system–fewer draft rounds with less money means fewer players with which to stock minor league rosters. The truth of any such speculation, and whether the demise of much of the minors is imminent, remain to be seen.

Baseball-Reference simulation.  Midweek Musings’ weekly update of baseball-reference.com’s 2020 season simulation continues. Through Tuesday, the KC Royals were floundering in a seven-game losing streak and stand 10 games under .500 at 16-26, good (or bad enough) for fourth place in the AL Central, a game ahead of last-place Detroit and 11½ games behind division front-runner Cleveland.

Adalberto Mondesi is hot and clubbed his team-best seventh home run of the season to overtake surprising Brett Phillips‘ six. Whit Merrifield‘s .319 average leads the club. Jorge Lopez leads the pitchers with a 5-1 record; Ian Kennedy has eight saves.

Joining Cleveland as division leaders are the Yankees, A’s, Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers.

The simulated Royals traded reliever Trevor Rosenthal to the Dodgers Tuesday for minor league pitcher Duany Gomez. Rosenthal appeared in 20 of KC’s 42 games and was 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 15.2 innings. He struck out 26 but walked 11.

The 19-year old Gomez has pitched two seasons in the Dominican Summer League and owns an overall 3-3 record with a 4.30 ERA in 35 relief appearances and two starts.

The sim uses Out of the Park Baseball 21 and updates are posted daily, usually by Noon, on Baseball-Reference’s simulation page.

Next: Short season ups ante for Danny Duffy

That’s all for now. We’ll be back next week with more KC Royals Midweek Musings. Until then, stay safe and healthy.

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