Jun 17, 2020 - Sports

Kansas City Royals sign top undrafted free agents after keeping minor-league salaries steady

Royals general manager Dayton Moore

Royals GM Dayton Moore. Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals have already made a big splash in the undrafted free agent market, signing six players since the window opened on Sunday, including two of the top 20 undrafted seniors and four of the top five players signed in the first 24 hours.

Why it matters: They were able to accomplish this in part by treating their existing players well during the pandemic, news of which reached these prospective draftees over a month ago.

The backdrop: With the pandemic leading to furloughs and budget cuts across all levels of baseball, most MLB teams slashed minor leaguers' stipends ($400 per player per week) or simply cut them outright as a way to save money.

  • Though some teams walked back original plans, simply floating the idea from the start was a bad look.
  • Meanwhile, Kansas City stood behind its players from the start, committing to making no cuts and paying all minor leaguers in full.

What they're saying:

  • Royals GM Dayton Moore in May: "Understand this — the minor league players, the players you'll never know about ... have as much impact on the growth of our game [as] 10-year or 15-year veteran players. ... They're growing the game constantly because they're so passionate about it. So we felt it was really, really important ... to stand behind them."
  • New Royals signee Kale Emshoff on how that influenced his decision to sign with Kansas City: "You want to know that when you're in the organization you're going to be taken care of ... that plays a huge role in the decision-making process."

The bottom line: By sacrificing their bottom line in the short term, the Royals actually improved their standing going forward — a lesson MLB could stand to learn right about now.

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