The A's announced Tuesday that they will stop paying a weekly stipend to minor league players beginning in June.
With the minor league season on hold due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the A's had been paying all players on minor league contracts $400 a week.
A's owner John Fisher confirmed the news in a lengthy email to staff members and fans.
"I am very saddened to let you know that we have implemented a significant temporary furlough of staff positions, and reduced compensation for staff members who are not furloughed," Fisher wrote. "We are also suspending compensation for the A's minor league players."
Fisher explained why the A's decided to make this move.
"I know that many of you will wonder why the A's are cutting costs now," Fisher wrote. "Nobody knows how this pandemic will evolve over the long term. What is clear is that our revenues will be dramatically reduced this year. None of this diminishes the pain of today's actions, but it is an honest acknowledgement of the circumstances of the moment."
The Score's Robert Murray obtained a copy of the email A's general manager David Forst sent to minor leaguers.
"Recognizing the hardship that not receiving a paycheck would have on you and your families, the Oakland Athletics agreed to continue to pay all of its players on the Minor League [Uniform Player Contracts] the sum of $400 per week through May 31," Forst wrote. "In addition, as Commissioner [Rob] Manfred said, all players will continue to receive medical and health benefits pursuant to the terms of their Minor League health insurance at least until the beginning of a partial 2020 regular season (and if no season is played, through the original 2020 regular season calendar). Unfortunately, considering all of the circumstances affecting the organization at this time, we have decided not to continue your $400 weekly stipend beyond May 31. This was a difficult decision and it's one that comes at a time when a number of full-time employees are also finding themselves either furloughed or facing a reduction in salary for the remainder of the season. For all of this, I am sorry."
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The A's are the first organization to halt payments to minor league players.
Have we seen the last game between the A's and the Cleveland Indians as they're known today? Just hours after the NFL team in Washington announced it would consider changing its racist nickname, Cleveland's MLB franchise released a statement indicating that the team was open to discussions on changing the "Indians" nickname.
The franchise has used the "Indians" moniker for over a century, switching over from the Cleveland Naps back in 1915. Broncos, Bluebirds, Lake Shores and Bustlers all also are nicknames the franchise has had in its lengthy history.
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Cleveland's management clearly has understood how the nickname could be considered offensive, as it removed the controversial "Chief Wahoo" alternate logo from the team's uniforms and most apparel at the end of the 2018 season.
Public pressure has mounted in the wake of sweeping support across the nation for reform to fight systemic racism and police brutality in the United States.
It won't be a surprise if we see not one, but two major American sports franchises completely rebrand with a new nickname and mascot before 2020 wraps up.
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The A’s activated a 60-man player pool to start training for the upcoming 2020 baseball season. Most of those players will work out of Oakland Coliseum during a three-week camp to prepare for games that count. The rest will go to an alternate site that the A’s have yet to determine.
“That has not been easy,” A’s general manager David Forst said Friday. “We’re working on that. We have a lot of players and staff members waiting by the phone anxious to hear when they’re leaving and when they’re going. I’m spending a lot of time working on that, as are a lot of other people.”
Stockton was the most obvious location. The A's Single-A affiliate resides there, so it seemed natural the Ports would host members of the player pool not training in Oakland and, eventually, those not part of the 30-man roster.
The A’s didn’t cement that site due to increased concerns over spikes in coronavirus cases and the heightened restrictions that followed.
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Stockton remains a possibility, though the A’s have explored other options in relatively close proximity to their home base. The ongoing public health crisis that delayed the MLB season, canceled the minor league baseball campaign and created a need for a reserve squad capable of filling in for the MLB players injured or infected, plays a part in the ultimate selection.
“Stockton is in the mix,” Forst said. “Anywhere we’ve looked around here, the situation with the virus is a factor. San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County -- we’ve looked around Alameda County -- how each county is handling things and their particular orders come into play when we’re looking into alternate sites.”
The A’s obviously need a quality baseball complex and housing around it for their players to temporarily reside, making options somewhat limited. Finding the right spot, and soon, will be important as players start to prepare in earnest for the season ahead.