Teams across Major League Baseball seem to be implementing cuts of minor league players. Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Cincinnati Reds were among the teams doing so.

Now, on one hand, this was bound to happen at some point. Minor League spring training was just getting started when the baseball (and the rest of America) world shut down. Teams had not even reached the point of minor league camp where they were playing games yet. That left teams in a situation where they had not even started to make their normal rounds of cuts and releases during the spring before the regular season began. Some of these were going to happen as a result of how things looked during the spring. Unfortunately for the guys getting released – they never really got to go out on the field and show why they didn’t deserve to be cut this year.

How many players have been cut, or will be cut from the organization is not yet known. Some teams have been as low as 13. Other teams, such as the Mariners, may have released more than 50 players.

On the other hand of this situation is the optics of the whole situation. This doesn’t necessarily reflect on the Reds as much as it does some other teams – like the Oakland Athletics, who will not be paying their minor leaguers beyond May 31st. That makes them technically still employed, and thus ineligible for unemployment, but also means they aren’t being paid and aren’t free agents free to sign with someone that will pay them to be a baseball player.

As of the writing of this, the Cincinnati Reds have not made a statement as to whether or not they would continue to pay their minor league players $400 a week beyond the May 31st point that they had previously agreed to. Some teams have extended that day through June, while the Marlins, Padres, and Mariners have said they will continue to pay them through August – which is when they would have been paid as players through the regular season.

The optics continue to look worse when you consider that these cuts don’t create room on rosters that may have been needed for the signing of a bunch of new players from the upcoming draft. With only 3-6 players being drafted by teams (they Reds will have 6 players selected) the roster spots were available to be had.

But Jeff Passan of ESPN just dropped this as I was about to hit publish.

This is a feature, not a bug. Ownership (not all, but enough of the owners) wants fewer teams, fewer players, fewer contracts, lower contracts. We’ve known that for a long time as they’ve set up spending limits on amateur players over the last decade, cut the number of rounds in the draft, and most recently, set forth to cut the number of teams in minor league baseball. This pandemic has simply given them an easier path to accomplishing their end goals.

15 Responses

  1. Shawn

    Looks like the Reds will be losing 2 teams. That would be about 60 players. Then you figure they will add about 20. Drafted players, undrafted players and international players. That’s 80 players right there that won’t have a place in the organization. I just hope the Reds make cuts from a competitive standpoint and not for financial reasons. Especially due to the relatively money they will save

  2. rick in boise

    What would stop a deep-pocketed team from scooping up any players who were foolishly cut? (Is ANY team going to keep their minor leaguers?

    • Doug Gray

      The only thing stopping that is having enough roster spots to add new players.

      • Z

        Roster spots? Players that are part of extended spring training don’t require spots do they?

      • Doug Gray

        Those players are still required to technically be on a roster – whether it’s the AZL/Greeneville/Billings roster. While those rosters aren’t “active”, an organization can only have as many players in it based on the amount of available roster spots it has among it’s farm teams.

  3. Amdg

    I am going to assume most of the guys released will be the roster filler types, and not genuine prospects.

    But it will be interesting to see if any teams let loose any young prospects with mlb potential.

  4. MK

    There are a number of players who were and always have been roster fillers. The Reds knew that when they signed and knew that when they came to Spring Training this year. If and when they need more roster fillers there will be plenty available .Maybe .5% surprise and make it. But it is sound business to cut the expense. It is after all a business.

    • amdg

      There are a lot of guys at the minor league level who were simply filling roster spots so the franchises had enough players to field a team, but weren’t really guys you look to as the ‘future of your franchise’. They were merely warm bodies so you could put a team on the field and see your actual prospects play.

      Those players are the obvious ones that a team would release, because you don’t need them since there are no teams to put on the field. And for the 2021 season, you can easily find replacement level talent to fill up rosters again, if need be.

      I don’t think you need a list. Just look thru the MiLB rosters for every player who is 26 or older, and has never reached the major leagues. That’s probably a chunk of your list right there.

    • Doug Gray

      No. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully to this point, to get a list. I’ve only seen two names thus far, and haven’t confirmed either of them.

  5. Rb

    It has always amazed me how many players spend years chasing a dream that by a certain age is almost unattainable. I have had a few friends drafted over the years that have spent 7 or 8 years in the minors trying to make it. Most have family members that are helping financially support them why they chase their dream. They retire, head back to college to finish their degree and end up teaching at a local high school or selling insurance. I suspect these are the ones who will be released.

  6. Redsvol

    Man I’m going to miss minor league baseball this year. Perhaps they will start up a short season league once it becomes apparent the virus will stay in check.

  7. Chris Potkonen

    Do you have a list of those who were cut loose?

    • Doug Gray

      Not yet, no. Without a season actually happening right now, the transactions can basically be made without publication in real time. I’ve attempted to get the list of players but have been unsuccessful thus far.