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Volume 24 No. 217
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Royals View Decision To Cut Payroll As Important First Step Towards Wholesale Rebuild

Royals Senior VP/Baseball Operations & GM Dayton Moore sees the club's decision to shed payroll this offseason as "less of a cost-cutting maneuver and more of a crucial first step in what will be a wholesale rebuild of the team's major-league roster," according to Rustin Dodd of the K.C. STAR. Moore said that the Royals are under "no directive from ownership to slash payroll." However, the team sees a "leaner budget making sense in the present as they attempt to build for the future." The Royals' payroll "approached a club-record" $150M last year, and club officials arrived at this week's winter meetings with more than $115M in salary commitments for '18 and a "strong desire to pare down." Moore indicated that the Royals spent $65M "over budget in the last two seasons." He said that the larger payrolls were "subsidized by ownership." Club officials have "described the Royals' annual 'break-even' point in payroll, based on 2 million in attendance," as close to $115M. The team has "averaged close to 2.5 million fans the last three years, not including the playoffs." Dodd notes the Royals could also "potentially receive another financial boost when the club's current under-market television deal expires" in '19. The deal is "currently the lowest" in MLB, and negotiations "will continue across the next two years" (K.C. STAR, 12/14). Moore said the team will "see where the market ends up" on free agents 1B Eric Hosmer, 3B Mike Moustakas and CF Lorenzo Cain -- three key players in the team's '15 World Series title -- but he acknowledged the franchise is "preparing as if none of that is possible." Moore: "If something falls back to us, we'll be prepared to react accordingly. The economics of the situation tell us we're not going to  be able to sign multiples, but maybe one." He added the team is "not shopping players," but it has to "address the fact that if some of our players are valuable to other teams and if there's a market and it brings us back prospects ... to help us rebuild our farm system, then we have to do that" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 12/13).

SCALING BACK: On Long Island, David Lennon reported Mets GM Sandy Alderson "hasn't revealed" what the Mets' expected '18 payroll will be, other than to "suggest at the end of the season that it was likely to be lower" than the $155.6M they opened with in '17. That number was the "most ever spent" by the Mets, surpassing the $149M in '09. Alderson said, "I would spend a little less time thinking about our payroll. We're trying to put the best team on the field that we possibly can" (NEWSDAY, 12/13). In N.Y., Kristie Ackert noted with arbitration projections, the Mets are "believed to currently be around" $125M with "holes at second base, the outfield and in the bullpen." Alderson: "I know a lot of attention is being paid to payroll, but we had a pretty good payroll last year and it went down because of some trades and so forth and I expect we will have a healthy payroll this year" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/13).