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.

Go deeper...Special report: Baseball in America

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Jul 4, 2020 - Sports

31 MLB players test positive for COVID as workouts resume

The Cleveland Indians on the field during a summer workout session. Photo: Dan Mendlik/Cleveland Indians via Getty Images

31 Major League Baseball players and seven staff members from 19 of the 30 teams tested positive for the coronavirus, AP reports.

Why it matters: Major League Baseball and the player's association announced the numbers on Friday. The positive cases come just as teams resumed workouts for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic brought spring training to an abrupt halt in March. Opening day is set for July 23 as the league prepares for its shortest schedule since 1878, AP notes.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 12,772,755 — Total deaths: 566,036 — Total recoveries — 7,030,749Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 3,269,531 — Total deaths: 134,898 — Total recoveries: 995,576 — Total tested: 39,553,395Map.
  3. Politics: Trump wears face mask in public for first time.
  4. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000.
  5. Public health: Trump's coronavirus testing czar says lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table" — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  6. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."
2 hours ago - Health

Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday — a new single-day record for any state, according to its health department.

The big picture: The figure shatters both Florida's previous record of 11,458 new cases and the single-state record of 11,694 set by California last week, according to AP. It also surpasses New York's daily peak of 11,571 new cases in April, and comes just a day after Disney World reopened in Orlando.