Major League Baseball’s rosters may be safe for the time being, but coronavirus has completely gutted things on the minor-league side. Teams have already started to release hundreds of minor leaguers, as reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Most organizations are cutting between 30-50 players.
It is normal for teams to release 10-20 players during the offseason to clear cap space and be able to acquire new free agents, but this is no normal year.
There is some hope here, though, as the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Boston Red Sox have committed to paying their minor league players their current weekly $400 stipend and receive benefits through Aug. 31, which is when the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was originally scheduled to end.
There’s practically no chance of a minor-league season taking place this year, let alone a Major League Baseball season at the moment. Commissioner Rob Manfred already wants to bring a complete overhaul to the minor-league system by contracting affiliates and reducing the amount of roster spots held by ‘non-prospects’. The pandemic has given Manfred his wish, a cheaper minor-league system.
Teams are now facing a PR battle as they make announcements that affect their minor-league players. Most of them already have no season to play this year, and face the reality of trying to find full-time work while also keeping in conditioning for next season. Many players will lose the opportunity they’ve spent their entire lives building towards.