MLB moves to slash pay, lay off managers and coaches come May
Blue Jays, other teams have committed to paying full-time employees until June 1
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has made a move that allows teams to lay off or cut the pay of major and minor league managers, coaches, trainers and full-time scouts starting May 1.
Manfred has suspended uniform employee contracts that cover about 9,000 people, including general managers on some teams. Manfred cited the inability to play games due to the national emergency caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
"Our clubs rely heavily on revenue from tickets/concessions, broadcasting/media, licensing and sponsorships to pay salaries," Manfred wrote in an email Monday, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. "In the absence of games, these revenue streams will be lost or substantially reduced, and clubs will not have sufficient funds to meet their financial obligations."
"The impact of the suspension of the UEC on your personal employment situation will be determined by your club," Manfred said.
Manfred's intention to suspend the contracts was first reported by The Athletic.
Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, the Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Minnesota, the New York Mets and Yankees, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Toronto are among the teams that have committed to paying full-time employees through May, and Miami, Pittsburgh and Texas will pay full-time baseball operations staff through the month. The Cubs will pay those on UECs and front-office staff through their May 29 paycheques, and Detroit said it has no plans for layoffs or furloughs.
Major League Rule 3(i) requires that UECs must be signed by all managers, coaches, trainers and salaried scouts, and some teams include additional baseball operations staff.
"Pursuant to the terms of the UEC, the club's exclusive right to your services will remain in effect during the period of the suspension such that you will not be permitted to perform services for any other club," Manfred wrote. "I fully recognize the hardship that this health crisis creates for all members of the baseball community. Central baseball and the clubs are doing everything possible to try to minimize this impact for as many employees as possible."
Manfred said the Baseball Assistance Team charitable organization "is available to consider grant applications on an expedited basis for those facing significant and immediate financial hardship."
Minor leagues set to accept cut to 120 affiliates: report
The minor leagues are prepared to agree to MLB's proposal to cut guaranteed affiliations from 160 to 120 next year, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, a plan that would that would impact hundreds of prospects and cut player development expenses.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because no announcements were authorized.
An electronic negotiating session is scheduled for Wednesday.
In informal talks, parties have discussed the possibility of a radical overhaul in which MLB would take over all of many of the duties of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, another person familiar with the negotiations said.
Instead of franchise affiliations, there would be licensing agreements similar to those of hotel chains, that person said. MLB would then sell sponsorship, licensing and media rights, a switch that may lead to decreased overhead and increased revenue.
"There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues," the National Association said in a statement Tuesday, adding it "looks forward to continuing the good-faith negotiations with MLB tomorrow."
In talks to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement , that expires after the 2020 season, MLB last year proposed cutting 42 affiliates, including double-A teams in Binghamton, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania, along with Chattanooga and Jackson, Tennessee. The plan would eliminate affiliations for the 28 teams from four Class A Short Season and Rookie Advanced leagues that do not play at spring training complexes.
Draft could be 5 rounds this year
Under MLB's proposal, MLB clubs would have four full-season farm teams, a rookie level club at their minor league complex and prospects in the Dominican Summer League.
The National Association lobbied Congress as it fought MLB's plan. But the new coronavirus pandemic has changed the dynamic and sapped minor league teams of revenue and willingness to fight. Some teams have trimmed expenses with layoffs and furloughs.
MLB already has gained an agreement with the big league players' union to cut the amateur draft from 40 rounds to as few as five this year and 20 in 2021. And signing bonuses of undrafted players will be capped at $20,000.
MLB hopes to push back the amateur draft permanently, likely July. Minor league teams losing affiliations may be able to stock their rosters with unsigned players in a showcase environment similar to collegiate summer leagues.
Ahead of an agreement, MLB said it will raise the pay of minor leaguers next year.