Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic postponed the beginning of the 2020 season, Major League Baseball teams agreed to pay minor leaguers $400 per week through May 31.
Now, with that date approaching, many teams are releasing large numbers of minor leaguers in order to cut costs.
At least 11 teams have begun the process of cutting minor leaguers as of Thursday, including the St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Tampa Bay Rays, according to Robert Murray.
Hundreds were released as of Thursday and hundreds more will be released in the coming days, with upward of 1,000 players in total being cut, sources told Jeff Passan of ESPN. Roster moves like these occur throughout each year, Passan adds, but the ongoing pandemic, as well as the anticipated cancellation of the MiLB season, has led to more devastating cuts than normal.
Agents have been weighing in on the releases, with one saying that it's "literally a war zone out there," according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
"Forty players per team just got whacked so the club could save $50,000 per month," another agent told Murray. "This is the equivalent of trying to save money by cutting out your daily Starbucks trip but still driving (a BMW) X5 you can't afford."
Murray also spoke with some minor-league players who said they were "terrified," "scared," and "nervous."
A separate agent spoke with Emily Waldon of The Athletic, stating teams are cutting large amounts of players in order to "claim they're still paying guys, but (they) actually threw a third of the system overboard to save, what? Less than $300,000?"
In addition, the agent noted that player and league web pages have not been updated with the roster moves. The agent asked why that would be, suggesting "so no one can see the carnage?" while also saying teams "don't need to clear 50-plus (roster) spots before a five-round draft."
Veteran outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was on a minor-league deal with the Mariners, was among the cuts.