Major League Baseball has not hidden its desire to contract the minor leagues. As players and player advocates have gained broad public support for living wages and basic working conditions for minor leaguers, the league, led by commissioner Rob Manfred, has been working to slash baseball’s minor league industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has served as an easy excuse for the league to put itself in a stronger position to contract the minor leagues. MLB has already cut the draft from 40 to just 5 rounds and placed an even harsher cap on undrafted free agents (lowering the maximum signing bonus from $125,000 to $20,000). This will further limit the influx of players to the professional ranks and make it easier to justify cutting teams.
As many owners have furloughed staff, implemented severe pay cuts, and jostled to further cut major league salaries beyond a standard proration, another hammer dropped today. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that hundreds of players around the league are set to be released with many teams cutting several dozen players.
However, according to an industry source, the San Francisco Giants will not be one of the teams making mass cuts. The team will maintain their standard rosters, only making releases to clear space for the players added through the draft.
The Giants have been one of the best organizations for employees throughout the pandemic furloughing no one in their baseball operations office (although gameday staff was laid off). However, the team has yet to announce whether or not they will continue paying their minor leaguers the $400 a week stipend teams agreed to extend through the end of May.
The Oakland Athletics on the other side of the Bay are also unlikely to join in the mass cuts, according to Alex Coffey of The Athletic, but the A’s also have told players they would not be paying them beyond this week. An egregious disregard for their players.It’s good to see the Giants refusing to jump on the bandwagon of MLB teams pinching pennies at the expense of their most at-risk employees, but holding onto players while refusing to pay them would be just as bad, if not worse. Either way, fans should expect an announcement from the team over the next few days.