Major League Baseball has been suspended for nearly three months now, and during that time minor league players have been relying on clubs to support them with stipends. That time is drawing to a close for many players, however, as a wave of teams have begun cutting minor league players from their rosters. On Monday, the Yankees became one of those teams.
New York is releasing around 45 players, with 43 known as per a report from Robert Pimpsner. Pimpsner notes that in a regular cycle, the team typically cuts around 20 players in the beginning of spring training, and 10-20 more before the draft. We’re nearing that timeline, with the draft seven days away on June 10th.
On top of that, there’s the complication that the minor leagues may not even restart this year. There’s already a lot of hurdles keeping the majors from coming back, and further negotiations to save the minor league season appear nonexistent. Games likely aren’t coming back, and so teams may want to cut costs from a product that isn’t going to be producing anytime soon.
MLB also wants to contract the minors in general, and the Yankees have the most minor league players of any organization — meaning that they were inevitably going to have to make cuts. That’s all sound logic, if you’re approaching this from purely a business perspective.
The thing that makes these choices impossible to accept, though, is that’s far from the only perspective to consider. The minor leaguers released were living off of a stipend of just $400 dollars a week, not even close to minimum wage (and plenty of minor league players have already had to manage on below-minimum wage salaries, which is a whole issue in itself). They’re now left without a job and with a delayed start in a market that has few, if any opportunities for them. Most of their baseball careers face the likelihood of being over.
All of this is going on because of a global pandemic. It is not a safe environment to suddenly be thrown out into without employment and with the probability of having to completely change their career paths. Plenty of people can relate to these circumstances, as businesses around the country are cutting salaries and laying off millions of employees, but the Yankees are a financial titan. They can and should support their own, especially when the “savings” that they’re making this move for are a pittance.
There’s the very real possibility that no matter what, a lot of these players were going to get cut at some point this year. It’s a part of the business even in normal times, and many are aware of this. Doing so at the end of the year — when things can potentially improve or players can at least try out for other spots — is vastly different than doing so suddenly in the middle of the dilemma.
It’s not like these are spots that had to be opened immediately. The draft will only be five rounds and the Yankees will only select three players. Other organizations are committing to no cuts at all during this time, like the Royals have for the entire year and the Twins have through August. It’s a simple gesture, but it’s one that shows that the clubs care about all of their players’ well-being during a difficult moment, not just the ones that have made it.