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Elephant Rumblings: Hundreds of minor leaguers cut from around the league

MLB news roundup

2019 Boston Red Sox Spring Training
Nick Lovullo, son of former A’s player and current D’backs manager Torey Lovullo, was among the Red Sox cuts
Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Good morning afternoon, Athletics Nation! (Sorry, we’ll get back to early morning on the Rumblings ASAP.)

The fallout continues from the coronavirus pandemic, as we approach the end of May with no idea of if or when baseball will return this year. This week brought lots of bad news for the minor leagues.

Tuesday brought word that the Oakland A’s would stop paying their minor leaguers beginning in June, but that was only the beginning. On Thursday, hundreds of minor leaguers were cut from various teams around the league, and more could follow soon, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (see link below in MLB News section).

Among the affected farm systems are the D’Backs, who cut 64 players this week, the Mariners (more than 50), the Mets (39), the Cubs (30), and the Red Sox (22), as well as the Brewers, Reds, Nationals, Rays, Cardinals, and Blue Jays. The A’s haven’t yet cut any players this week, but back in March they let go of two dozen, reported then by Bill Moriarity of Athletics Farm.

To clarify, in some ways these cuts aren’t as bad as they sound. In normal years, lots of minor leaguers are cut after spring, or early in the summer, but this year that didn’t happen because of the postponed season. It’s likely that many (most? all?) of these players would have been cut anyway (and weeks/months ago), especially considering that roughly a quarter of minor league teams might be contracted in the next year as part of a plan from before the pandemic began. On top of that, there are questions about whether furloughed players can collect unemployment (which might exceed the $400 weekly stipend they were receiving from teams), so being released from their contracts might bring at least one potential benefit.

That said, it’s jarring to see all these cuts happen at once. What’s more, these players will be uniquely unable to turn around and catch on with a new team — as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic said in a tweet (embedded below), “with transactions frozen and [the] minor-league season likely to be canceled, these players have practically nowhere to turn, at least in ‘20. And many are not in position to stick around until ‘21.” Even if the cuts were preordained, this has still been a dark week for the minors.

There is some good news. Several teams have committed to continue paying their minor leaguers, whether through August (Marlins, Padres, Red Sox, Astros) or at least through June (Mets, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Giants, Indians) (see MLBTR roundup and this one). But it would be a lot cooler to see 30 teams on that list, instead of 10 or so, so that MLB players (like David Price) don’t have to step up and help bridge the financial gap for their billionaire bosses (which he is reportedly doing).

It’s already been clear for a while that there probably won’t be a minor league season in 2020. The bigger question might be what the minors look like whenever they finally return.

A’s Coverage:

MLB News & Interest:

Best of Twitter:

May the Voice of God rest in peace

It’s been a tough year for the Coliseum family

Rosenthal with some crucial context about all the minor leaguers being cut this week

Noooo do I have to start liking David Price now? Because this is an awesome move by him. This is gonna take some getting used to.

Well now this is an interesting response to the Boras link above

Getting to hear these arguments is always fascinating, but my takeaway here is the phenomenal job done by the umpire in a tense situation.