With the sport paused indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB owners are searching for any possible way to keep their profit margins relatively stable and avoid taking losses this season. We’ve already heard plenty of news about organizations furloughing and laying off front office employees, and now some organizations are apparently resorting to sacrificing the future of the sport in order to cut marginal costs in the present.
As ESPN’s Jeff Passan and plenty of others reported Thursday, major league organizations are making mass minor league cuts, with more than 1,000 players in jeopardy of losing their jobs by the end of the cycle.
In normal years, cuts happen but not en masse like this. The fallout from the coronavirus, expected minor league contraction and the anticipated cancellation of the 2020 minor league season prompted organizations each to release dozens of players, who were being paid $400 a week.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 28, 2020
Per The Score’s Robert Murray, the Mariners, Brewers, Reds, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Rockies, Braves, Diamondbacks, and Rays will be among the teams to part ways with minor leaguers. The Mariners’ cuts appear to be the most alarming, as more than 50 players will be let go.
#STLCards another team releasing minor leaguers today, according to multiple sources. Known teams to make cuts: Mariners, Brewers, Reds, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Rockies, Braves, DBacks, Rays.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) May 28, 2020
The Mariners’ recent minor-league cuts were extensive. They released more than 50 players, according to sources.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) May 28, 2020
In a way, this is a more humane strategy than the one employed by the Athletics, who just stopped paying their minor leaguers the $400 monthly stipend they’d been giving them previously, yet will still hold them to the terms of their contracts and prevent them from signing with other teams. With these cuts, the players at least have a chance at catching on with a team that actually values player development and depth, though it’s hard to see many if any teams looking to add players in the immediate future since there aren’t going to be minor league games going on anyway and countless minor league affiliates are scheduled to be eliminated in 2021.
But it’s still going to cost countless players their dreams of playing in the big leagues, seemingly for cost-cutting reasons rather than because of their actual performance. And these cuts combined with the reduction of minor league affiliates combined with the erosion of the MLB Draft combined with the consistently terrible minor league salaries combined with teams increasingly trying to nickel and dime veterans will undoubtedly make amateur players think twice about trying to pursue a big-league career, potentially causing the talent pool to dissipate in a way that it never has before.