“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 acknowledgment of the circumstances of the moment.”
Paying players across their eight minor league affiliates would cost the Athletics approximately $1.3 million. Fisher, son of the founders of Gap, is worth an estimated $2.1 billion, according to Forbes.
“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,” Athletics General Manager David Forst wrote in an email to the organization’s minor league players. “This was a difficult decision and it’s one that comes at a time when a number of our 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.”
Forst’s letter also reiterated that this decision does not allow the players to become free agents or sign with another team.
Major League Baseball announced in March it would pay minor league players a $400-per-week stipend through May 31. Players at the rookie level receive $290 per week over a three-month season while players in Class AAA earn $502 a week over five months.
Oakland’s decision to not pay its minor league players comes at a time where the system of minor league baseball is struggling, with contraction among dozens of teams a seemingly imminent option.
The 2020 MLB season was set to begin in late March but no games have been played yet as the league and players’ union struggle to come to terms on a playing arrangement centered around health, safety and finances.
MLB Players Association officials came away from Tuesday’s initial formal meeting with MLB as “extremely disappointed,” according to a person with knowledge of the union’s position.
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