The Athletics will furlough several scouts following next month’s MLB Draft, as USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale was among the first to report Tuesday. The furloughs will last through the end of October, so in essence, the A’s will take advantage of the scouts’ skills during their busiest time of year, stop paying them when they become less useful during the late summer and then expect them to return once their insight becomes extraordinarily valuable again in the offseason.
This had been expected by several scouts I had spoken to, but what a terrible shame: Make use of these immensely knowledgeable people’s skills through the draft - and then furlough them. I applaud those clubs who will continue to take care of their scouts throughout this time. https://t.co/aBIA9wCtJ1— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 26, 2020
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who reported the news first, the cuts could be “extensive”:
Heard A’s have told their people there will be furloughs for at least some scouts. Don’t have the details yet but sounds like it may be extensive.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 26, 2020
The fact that Billy Beane and David Forst’s front office is doing this probably won’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who has seen Moneyball, though scouts as a whole have gotten much younger and evolved in their acceptance of analytics and new techniques since sabermetrics first came to prominence in the early 2000s.
Unfortunately, MLB teams have been all to eager to get rid of scouts in recent years, preferring to rely on video and data gathered from tracking systems like Statcast. The Athletics organization is obviously one of the lower-revenue franchises in MLB and has (rather deservedly) gained a reputation for being cheap over the years, but it’s still hard to ignore the possibility that the team is using the pandemic as an excuse to cut down on scouting costs. On the bright side, these scouts will retain their benefits and seemingly will have jobs waiting for them in November, so things aren’t as bad as they could’ve been.