KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With unemployment nationwide reaching historic levels and the professional sports landscape at a relative standstill, Kansas City Royals ownership and management have taken steps to avoid layoffs and furloughs amid Major League Baseball's uncertain future.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore confirmed an ESPN report Friday afternoon that the club has opted to institute tiered pay cuts at the upper levels of executive pay, including Moore's salary, to avoid cutting employees.
All 30 MLB franchises have taken steps to address revenue losses due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Elsewhere, those actions have included furloughs, layoffs and even the mass release of minor league players. The Royals have also declared their intention to pay their more than 200 minor league players through the end of the season.
The Royals' baseball operations department includes 218 employees from the executive level all the way down to scouts, coaches, trainers and minor league player development staff.
"He was very thoughtful through this entire process," Moore said of Royals CEO and chairman John Sherman during a call with reporters. "He wanted to make sure that we were dotting every 'i,' crossing every 't,' examining every scenario. He literally went individual by individual in the baseball operations department and wanted to know how certain reductions would affect certain families. He was that thoughtful with it."
Moore said he started having discussions and working on ways to manage resources with Sherman as well as Brooks Sherman (no relation to John Sherman), a member of the team's board of directors and senior advisor to the chairman, before the team left its Arizona spring training facility in March.
"John wanted to make sure that there was no furloughs, no layoffs, and talked about a shared sacrifice at the upper levels of leadership, which we are really proud to take part of," Moore said. "I mean, we're honored to take part of the sacrifices to take part in these reductions because we were all area scouts and coaches at one point in time.
"We understand what young families are going through, and we understand the pay scale and the minor leagues and scouting and player development. So we were really honored to take part of it, really because of John Sherman's leadership."
Sherman, a longtime Kansas City businessman and former minority partner in the Cleveland Indians' ownership group, headed an ownership group that purchased the Royals in November for $1 billion.
The club has yet to play a regular-season game under Sherman's watch, and plenty of uncertainty remains about revenues for this year as the MLB and MLBPA continue to negotiate a deal to begin an abbreviated season this summer.
MLB suspended spring training and postponed the start of its season on March 12. Subsequently, all spring training operations were suspended and training facilities closed.
The Royals had been scheduled to open the season on the road in Chicago March 26, and their home opener was set for April 2. The club announced its ticket refund/exchange policy at the end of April.
According to the event and game-ticket website TicketIQ.com, the Royals were projected to lose more than $52 million in revenue from ticket sales alone through the July MLB All-Star break — a figure based on average ticket price and the previous year's attendance figures.
MLB claimed the Royals would lose $113 million if a shortened, 82-game season is played in empty ballparks without fans, according to figures provided by baseball to the players' union, per the Associated Press.
Earlier this spring, each MLB team, including the Royals, pledged $1 million toward paying stadium workers through May 31, though it remains unclear how and when that money was to be distributed.