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The Cubs are cutting their player development and scouting staff

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This is not good news

Photo by @WillByington / www.willbyington.com

Baseball teams have suffered significant losses this year without fans in the stands. Teams began to cut back earlier this year with pay cuts and furloughs. This included Cubs full-time employees.

Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic reported Wednesday that there are now going to be quite a number of full-time jobs eliminated on the baseball side of the Cubs operation:

Cubs employees had been bracing for the bad news that came with Wednesday’s internal communications. The impacted group within Theo Epstein’s baseball operations department includes scouts on the amateur and professional sides as well as double-digit staffers in player development, according to early estimates.

There’s no word yet on how many employees are going to be let go or in which departments, but this is not good news for the baseball side for the Cubs. They aren’t alone, per Sharma:

Last week, the Yankees instituted “a wave of layoffs and furloughs,” reported The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, with sources describing the cuts to their player development personnel as furloughs for nearly all coaches and support staff at their minor-league affiliates.

This makes me wonder the following: If the disruption to baseball’s economics from not having fans in the stands were just a one-year thing, you’d think that a team that’s been as forward-looking as the Cubs would say, “Well, we’re going to have fans back next year, we can manage through this.” Perhaps that’s not the case; perhaps the Cubs think that fans won’t be able to go to baseball games through some portion of 2021 as well, with the resulting loss in revenue.

That’s strictly speculation on my part. When Theo Epstein joined the Cubs, the baseball operations department was the smallest in the major leagues. He built it into a powerhouse that won the World Series. Now it could be back to square one.

Sharma’s article concludes:

The pro scouts who have been grounded from travel are largely expected to continue contributing their insights for the Aug. 31 trade deadline and advance reports on opponents. Contracts for Cubs staffers in baseball operations are typically structured to run through Oct. 31. The two-month notice was given so that those impacted employees – who will still be paid through that date – can plan ahead for an uncertain future in a time when the 2021 Cubs and the entire baseball industry will be shrinking.

That’s a sobering final sentence — “the entire baseball industry will be shrinking.” When — or if — it gets back to normal is anyone’s guess.