It was announced last week that many major league baseball clubs would cease paying their minor league players that are still under contract. The Kansas City Royals have decided to take a much different path than most teams. Not only are the Royals going to continue to pay the players, but they also will not be releasing any of them. In stark contrast, by Friday, the Chicago Cubs have cut ties with 30 such players. The Cubs have agreed to pay all players through June, while the Royals have committed to paying such players through August 31.
How much will the Cubs and other such teams save? Each minor leaguer is receiving a $400.00 per week stipend. This payment will save ball clubs around $50,000 per month during the stoppage due to COVID-19.
Another “big” club cutting ties with minor league players is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Per a report on Thursday, pitcher David Price had agreed to pay each cut player in the Dodgers organization $1,000 per month out of his pocket. Price makes good money, he is currently in a seven-year, $217 million deal, but the group that owns the Dodgers also manages roughly $217 billion worth of assets. Not that MLB players are underpaid, not by any stretch of the imagination. However, the owners have made record profits over the last few seasons, and now that the going has gotten tough for them, they want the players to take the cuts. I don’t recall a season when a ball club made more money than expected, and the owners shared the money with the players. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, owners are cutting players and expecting them to play for less. No Way!
Back to Kansas City. In a conference call last week, GM Dayton Moore explained why the Royals would continue to pay everyone. He noted the importance of the minor league players, especially the veterans who help with the development of the younger players. Also, how many of them work as scouts and coaches, helping to get players to the majors. Think of this; the Royals rank 26th in baseball now with a payroll of $82,548,975; they are a small-market team and under new ownership. Yet, they know how important many of these players are, players, many of us never have and will never hear of.
Meanwhile, the Cubs, owned by the Ricketts family, have a value of $3.2 billion and have a payroll of $187,041,000. Our Governor, Pete Ricketts, is a co-owner of the Cubs and sits on their board of directors. Are you telling me they cannot afford to pay $50K a month to help these players that are trying to make it to the “Show”? (Note, the Cubs were bought by the Ricketts family in 2009 for $700 million.)
I’m not saying the major league players need help, most of them are overpaid in my opinion. However, the players down in the farm system, not on the 40-man roster, usually get paid very little and play for the love of the game. All I’m saying is, when your team is valued at one, two or even three-billion dollars, you can afford to “pony up” and pay the players that ultimately put in the hard work and make the farm systems what they are. As is often the case, the lowly workers get paid the least, while the CEO’s in the offices make big money.