The Oakland A’s have decided to stop paying their minor leaguers, a decision that will take effect on June 1st.
As Major League Baseball continues to be shut down due to the ongoing pandemic, minor league players find themselves in a difficult situation. The expectation is that the minor league season will be canceled, with players having workouts at spring training facilities. This puts those players in a difficult spot as they are typically paid only during the season.
While teams had been paying their minor league players during the shutdown, that is coming to an end. The Oakland A’s announced that they will end their $400 per week stipend to their minor league players effective June 1, a move that may be mirrored by other organizations.
This is certainly a bad look for the A’s. As it is, Major League Baseball and the Player’s Union are squabbling over money, claiming that the financial losses those teams are facing are reason enough to slash player salaries by drastic amounts, to keep the minor league season from happening, and to even reduce the number of minor league teams as a whole.
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The A’s have traditionally been a smaller market team, doing their best to contend despite lower payrolls. Yet, that small market narrative is essentially one of their own making, particularly when one considers that owner John J. Fisher is worth $2.1 billion. Instead of stepping up, ownership is doing the opposite, cutting off those players that rely upon such a pittance.
The worst part? It is not that other teams and billionaire owners will follow suit. It is that those owners can get away with it. Minor league players do not have a say at the table, their presence this year ignored outside of those floating practice squads. As long as the major leaguers get theirs, what does it matter if the minor leaguers get paid?
But these actions will have consequences. Players and agents remember – it is a part of why certain teams always seem to land players controlled by specific agents. Those minor league players that are being cut off will remember this when they have a chance to leave in free agency. Likewise, players may be less willing to sign in Oakland now, knowing that the team refused to take care of their players.
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The Oakland A’s are saving some money for now. However, in the long term, these actions could have consequences.