It’s time to quit kidding ourselves… minor league baseball isn’t happening in 2020.
With so much attention focused on the drama surrounding Major League Baseball (will there be a season or not?), many just assumed the 2020 minor league season was already canceled.
Well… technically it hasn’t been.
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The Pensacola Blue Wahoos — the Minnesota Twins Double-A affiliate — has listed its stadium on Airbnb, owners have already begun laying off front-office and game-day employees, and according to ESPN‘s Jeff Passan, beginning this week and next hundreds of minor league players will be released in a mass-cutting that could even reach 1,000 by the time it’s all over with. However, throughout all of this, Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner has yet to even address the public, leaving some of us wondering what the hold up is.
As mentioned above, many sites across the internet have been operating under the assumption that a MiLB season won’t happen this year.
Then there’s of course the contraction issue, which all by itself will require large amounts of player-cuts — 42 teams worth to be exact. If the league is already releasing hundreds of players over the next two weeks, why not go ahead and begin the process of contracting the minor leagues altogether.
Maybe minor league baseball contraction is already happening?
MLB and its Players Union has already agreed on a 20-man taxi squad for the 2020 MLB season, allowing big-league teams to carry its up-and-coming prospects as well as any players that failed to make the major league club this past Spring. Depending on how teams choose to construct its taxi squads, and the depth of talent of each organization’s farm system, some of these 20-man rosters could all but clear any talent within the MiLB system, leaving many affiliates with simply fillers instead of star prospects. And remember, this taxi-squad deal is already agreed upon. It’s for sure happening this season.
All-in-all there just doesn’t seem to be much hope left for the minor leagues. Sure, negotiating a return for MLB should be the main priority right now, and maybe afterward big-league teams will get together and host some sort of modified instructional league to continue the development of its talent down in the lower minors. But minor league players and fans deserve a verdict, or at least an update as to what’s officially going on.
Earlier this week the Oakland Athletics announced they would stop paying their minor leaguers their weekly $400 stipends beginning June 1 (in the coming days), and more organizations will surely follow. Although, maybe before releasing a large swath of employees (or simply seizing to pay them), perhaps the league should let everybody in on what the ultimate plan is.