Royals commit to paying minor league players despite MLB uncertainty

Kansas City Royals

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore isn’t in control of when the minor league season will resume.

He’s controlling what’s controllable – how his minor leaguers will be treated before they’re able to return to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Friday, hundreds of Kansas City Royals minor leaguers were invited to a Zoom call in which only two people would speak: Moore and J.J. Picollo, the club’s assistant GM of player personnel.

Meanwhile, other MLB teams were releasing players in droves.

“I was talking to a few teammates before, and we were like – man, what’s  going to happen? ” admitted catcher MJ Melendez, the Royals No. 13 prospect, according to MLB. “Honestly, it’s so hard to think that anything positive could have come out of it.

Only two people spoke: Moore and J.J. Picollo, the club’s assistant GM of player personnel.

The video conference was nothing but positive.

Moore made the announcement that the organization was putting their money where their mouth is.

“We came here many years ago with the spirit of: How can we make the games of baseball and softball better in our community? We want boys and girls playing the game,” said Moore. We never want to stop looking at the game from the eyes of our youth. We’re just going to try to uphold the integrity of the game.”

They pledged to not only maintain their entire roster of minor leaguers, but also to pay them their $400 weekly stipend.

Not only did they oppose a mini-trend occurring across the league with their decision, but they provided their thoughtful reasoning that would set a positive example among MLB.

“The minor-league player, the players that you’ll never know about, the players that never get out of rookie ball or High-A, those players have as much impact on the growth of our game as 10-year, 15-year veteran players,” Moore said. “They have as much opportunity to influence the growth of our game as those individuals that play for a long time because those are the individuals that go back into their communities and teach the game. They work in academies. They’re junior college coaches. They’re college coaches. They’re scouts. They coach in professional baseball. They’re growing the game constantly because they’re so passionate about it.”

For players, the sentiment does not come as a surprise.

“For the Royals to do that, step up and do something like that is not out of their character at all. It just shows kind of like who they are as people and leaders in the baseball world,” said Royals No. 28 prospect, right-handed pitcher Tyler Zuber.

When baseball does return, the players are looking forward to showing their gratitude.

“It makes you truly cherish what it means to wear a jersey that says Royals across it,” said Zuber.

But, they know that Moore’s commitment is bigger than their organization.

“I feel like minor league baseball really needed that – some sort of positivity with everything negative that’s going on.”

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