The Royals wont necessarily need to make a corresponding payroll cut in order to acquire another impact starting pitcher or any roster upgrade for that matter through a trade or free agency.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Owner David Glass confirmed Wednesday the club is operating with a $70 million soft cap for next seasons payroll but emphasized nothing is set in stone and reiterated a willingness to fund a deficit to bolster the teams deficiencies.
We dont have a hard number on anything, Glass told The Star. I would tell you that for us to break even, our payroll has to be in the $70 million range. But as weve discussed before, we will react based on what our opportunities are.
Glass also disputed the notion, generally based on industry estimates by Forbes magazine, that he has pocketed more than $100 million in operating profit since purchasing the club in 2000 from the estate of Ewing Kauffman.
From the time weve owned the team until now, Glass said, accumulatively weve done no better than break even. Weve actually subsidized it slightly during that period of time.
Look, you might have a $65-to-$70 million payroll, but then you go out and spend $25-$30 million in amateur bonuses. Everyone says, Well, your payroll is less than some of the other teams, but those other teams were spending less than $10 million in amateur bonuses.
In a number of those years, if you add what were spending on amateur bonuses to our (major-league) salaries, were spending a lot of money.
The more immediate issue, with baseballs winter meetings less than a week away, is whether the Royals have sufficient payroll to add another reliable arm to a rotation already bolstered by trading for Ervin Santana and re-signing free-agent Jeremy Guthrie.
The Royals checked on the availability of Boston left-hander Jon Lester and Tampa Bay righty James Shields. They also took a recent run at free agent Ryan Dempster and have been linked to several other veteran pitchers.
A major hurdle, in all cases, was available payroll.
Best estimates project the clubs roster, as currently constituted, around $67 million, which led general manager Dayton Moore to suggest that any major addition would likely require the club to shed payroll in other areas.
Not necessarily, it seems.
The thing being discussed that borders on ridiculous is the $70 million payroll, Glass said. Ive always said that whatever money the franchise generates, were willing to put it all back in whether its in amateur bonuses or payroll or scouting.
Im even willing to go further and subsidize it at a time when weve got a chance to win our division or really be competitive. Were at that time, so now you get to the point where it depends on whats available.
Glass agrees one more impact pitcher would significantly improve our opportunity to compete in 2013 but remains reluctant to compromise the clubs long-term approach.
So now you get to the point where it depends on whats available, he said. You say, Go spend it. Well, what do you spend it on? Unless you get something that is going to help you beyond this year I dont want us to have a one-year approach.
Even so, Glass said he is open to boosting the next seasons payroll to, say, $76 million if Moore makes the case that doing so would provide a significant short-term boost the club without compromising the future.
I would consider whatever recommendation Dayton makes to me, Glass said. There is nothing set in stone. I think we have a responsibility to the fans to get better each year. As a fan, and Im as much of a fan as an owner, I want to win.
On the other hand, I want us to generally be prudent and try to live within our budget, but that doesnt mean we wont take advantage of opportunities.
Glass said payrolls will rise in future years as the result of new TV contracts that take effect with the 2014 season. He also pointed to several promising pitchers near the top of the Royals farm system as an argument against a reckless short-term approach.
What Dayton has to weigh, Glass said, is what the trade-off is in trying to be more competitive this year? I love our core of young players. I think theyre going to get better. I think we had the best bullpen in the American League this past year.
Starting pitching is where were short. But do you disturb or damage other areas to get that starting pitching? Dayton has made a good start with Santana and Guthrie, and there are other things being discussed.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Royals_Report.