Today, via the transactions pages of the minor leagues where the Cubs have affiliates, I have the names of 28 of these players. They deserve to be remembered, so here they are.
Iowa Cubs (Pacific Coast League)
Carlos Asuaje, Bryan Brickhouse, Noel Cuevas, Oscar De La Cruz, Corban Joseph, Jordan Patterson, Brock Stewart, Ben Taylor
Tennessee Smokies (Southern League)
Dario Beltre, Charcer Burks, Roberto Caro, Adam Choplick, Wladimir Galindo, Zach Hedges, Chad Hockin, David Masters, Marcus Mastrobuoni, Jordan Procyshen, Ian Rice, Jake Stinnett, Caleb Simpson, Matt Tenuta
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
South Bend Cubs (Midwest League)
Eugene Emeralds (Northwest League)
To be clear, in a normal year many of these players might have been released at the end of spring training, as is common in most seasons, or around this time as teams geared up for draft picks who would be added to minor-league clubs.
Some of the names, you might recognize from having played in spring training games either this year or in past years, and some of them were high draft picks or had reasonable prospect status at some point in their careers. I am a bit sad that Bryan Brickhouse was let go; he’s no relation to the famed Cubs announcer, but it would have been fun to have an actual player named Brickhouse on the ballclub at some point. A few others listed (Asuaje, Cuevas, Joseph, Taylor) had previous big-league experience and might be able to catch on with another team when baseball begins again.
But some of the players listed above simply had big-league dreams that now likely will never be realized, with the minor-league season likely cancelled and the threat of possibly up to a quarter of minor-league teams being contracted at some point in the near future. I thought it was worth noting their names.
Beyond this, there are some teams that have already announced that they will be paying the minor leaguers remaining in their organizations through the end of August (or later), which would have been about the time this year’s minor-league seasons would have ended. Here are just a few examples:
The Minnesota Twins have committed to paying their minor league players a $400-a-week stipend and their full benefits, including health insurance, through Aug. 31, which is around when the minor league season was scheduled to end, a source tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 29, 2020
KC Royals are paying their minor leaguers for the whole year, And no releases. Here’s word from KC: “Haven’t had any (minors releases) and won’t through the the summer. !!!” Great organization with a heart!— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 29, 2020
All players currently within the Astros' Minor League system will continue to be paid their current stipend and receive benefits through Aug. 31, the team announced.— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 29, 2020
Sources: Red Sox commit to paying minor leaguers $400/week through August https://t.co/SmO8GwjSL1— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) May 29, 2020
The #reds will pay their Minor League players their weekly stipend through what would have been the rest of the season - Sept. 7.— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) May 29, 2020
The Oakland Athletics announced that they will stop paying minor leaguers at the end of May. It’s worth reading this Athletics Nation op-ed on this topic. To say A’s fans are upset is putting it mildly.
The Cubs have not made any official announcement regarding any of this — either the players they’re letting go, or whether the players remaining in their organization will be paid through August. This article in The Athletic indicates the Cubs will pay minor leaguers through the end of June, and are making decisions on “a month-to-month basis.” Even in a season where teams are losing millions of dollars of revenue, paying minor leaguers for the full 2020 season would be a pittance.
Here is another thing related to current baseball employment that’s worth noting:
One thing I repeatedly hear from scouts and front office officials. They all are noticing which MLB clubs are furloughing people and which ones are paying their employees for the duration. They steadfastly believe it will be an advantage for adding top talent going forward.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) May 29, 2020
And at the same time, the orgs that are cutting staff right now are also being noticed. It's not that they won't be able to hire (there are many job-seekers for every job). But the thought is they will struggle to retain/attract scouts/analysts/coaches who have options.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) May 29, 2020
At this time, the Cubs haven’t furloughed anyone, though they have cut pay for many high-earning employees and executives. JJ Cooper is right — teams that treat their employees well during tough times like these will have a better time attracting talent to work for them going forward. One last note on all this from Cooper:
The Cubs have released 28 MiLB players in the past week. They also released 22 in March, so they have now released 50 players March-May. No team in 2018 or 2019 released that many players in that three-month span. pic.twitter.com/6XDwL5OO1I— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) May 29, 2020
We’re living through extraordinary times. Hopefully baseball — and all the rest of us, too — comes out on the other end better for what it’s gone through.