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.
- Brazil: Why Dallas Braden vehemently opposes MLB’s latest proposal to players
- Slusser: A’s drawing criticism for decision to stop paying minor-leaguers
- Moriarity: A’s To Stop Paying Minor Leaguers: Players React
- Hickey: Longtime Athletics’ Coliseum Voice Roy Steele passes away
- Hickey: Athletics’ Minor Leaguers Lose Respect for A’s Organization as Money Dries Up
- Hickey: Healthy Mengden Would Be Bonus Asset for Athletics in 100-Game Season
- Hickey: With Likelihood of a Delay at Howard Terminal, Coliseum Site is Again a Player
- Hall: ‘Timeline may be adjusted’ for Oakland A’s ballpark project
- Frijoles: Op-ed: John Fisher is an embarrassment to all A’s fans
- A’s trivia: Saves leaders by year
MLB News & Interest:
- Passan: Minor League Baseball cuts hundreds of players amid pandemic, sources say
- Blum: Boras to clients in memo: Don’t bail out baseball owners
- Ehrenberg: Re-starting Major League Baseball: Motivation and manipulation
- Adler: Why Trout says Scherzer is the best he’s faced
- Landers: Players who share a very famous name
- Castrovince: Ace of Diamond: Graf, Agassi’s kid has MLB dreams
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter:
May the Voice of God rest in peace
It’s been a tough year for the Coliseum family
. @Athletics lost 3 great ones this year. Harold Miller, Chester Farrow & Roy Steele. All three combined had a total of over 130 years of working at the Coliseum. If you knew them, you loved them. They are what made #baseball great in #Oakland. RIP gentleman #rootedinoakland pic.twitter.com/9ZHDFoQ0eH— Jose Carlos Fajardo (@jcfphotog) May 29, 2020
Rosenthal with some crucial context about all the minor leaguers being cut this week
Many minor leaguers released today would have suffered same fate at end of spring. But with transactions frozen and 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. https://t.co/iM5A0QP3aQ— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 29, 2020
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.
Sources: David Price will pay out of his money $ 1,000 during the month of June to each minor league player in Dodgers system (40-man roster not included) according to multiple sources. Beautiful act if we count that Price hasn't played yet in MLB with @Dodgers. RESPECT.— Francys Romero (@FrancysRomero10) May 29, 2020
Well now this is an interesting response to the Boras link above
Hearing a LOT of rumors about a certain player agent meddling in MLBPA affairs. If true — and at this point, these are only rumors — I have one thing to say... Scott Boras, rep your clients however you want to, but keep your damn personal agenda out of union business.— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) May 27, 2020
Getting to hear these arguments is always fascinating, but my takeaway here is the phenomenal job done by the umpire in a tense situation.