On May 26, news broke that the Oakland Athletics will no longer be paying their Minor League players during the pandemic. Players across Minor League Baseball were paid $400 a week since March. Players were contacted via email to let them know that their weekly pay would not be continued past June 1st, giving players less than a week’s notice that their pay was discontinue. The move was part of a larger furlough by the A’s who also furloughed scouts, team personnel, and staff.
This is the first instance of a MLB team furloughing their Minor League players.
How will this impact the players?: players are in the most precocious situations. They remain under contract with a team but will not be paid until regular season baseball resumes (this could be as late April 2021). If an Oakland A’s Minor Leaguer wants to earn a check, they will need to do it away from professional baseball.
With June right around the corner it seems less and less likely that Minor League Baseball as we know it, will return to normal in 2020. It seems most likely that *if* baseball resumes in 2020, it will most likely be at a Spring Training complex in Florida or Arizona. If not, these guys will be without work for almost a year. For a lot of people, this is simply not an option and they will be forced to walk away from the game.
How will this impact Minor Leagues? It all depends. If MLB and the MLBPA agree to terms and Spring Training resumes in the near future, it is not entirely unconceivable that Minor League Baseball plays in some sort of fashion this year. But if I am being frank, I suspect that if Minor League Baseball gets played it will be out of Spring Training facility backfields.
What does this mean re: contraction?:
Short-term: Beloit and Vermont are the teams that have appeared most regularly on the still fluid “list” of teams rumored to be contracted. Will this impact either affiliate? Depends. If baseball returns in 2020, it is more likely that we will see ballgames in Wisconsin before we see action in Vermont (full-season v. short-season). The most important short-term impact could be the very real opportunity these two affiliates could have to connect with fans one last time.
Long-term: No matter what, if you live in Vermont (especially the Champlain Valley), or in and around Beloit, Wisconsin, the long-term concern hinges on multiple things.
- For Beloit it seems as though its future hinges on whether the city will pass a bill to build a new ballpark.
- For Vermont, this all hinges on whether the New York-Penn League stays in existence in its current form or in some re-designed rookie-league.
If neither of those things happen than the future is grim for both franchises. The furlough of Minor League players will likely force many young players to ask whether they can afford to keep “chasing the dream” as they try to make their way through the rigors, roster games, and politics of making ones’ way up through the Minor Leagues. You are less likely to see top round picks in this camp, but players who were college seniors and late round picks are much more likely to fill an immediate need created by this decision. Right off the bat (excuse the pun), that will include a large portion of players who make up short-season Minor League team rosters, including Vermont.
The total cost of paying the farm system through the rest of the season is approximately just over a million dollars (not counting Minor League free agents signed to the team or players on the 40-man roster). This is essentially the cost of 2 MLB league minimum salaries ($563,500).