With there still being a major question mark as to whether or not baseball is actually going to be played this year, teams are having to deal with the financial realities of no baseball in 2020, and we have seen that come into play over the last week or so, with some teams certainly handling it better than others. Additionally, we have also seen a rash of teams make cuts in their minor-league system ahead of the draft, which is on June 10 and 11. The Red Sox were part of both of these groups on Friday.
We’ll start with the latter, as the Red Sox cut 22 minor leaguers Friday afternoon. The full list can be found here at Masslive. The group is mostly non-prospects and players further up the organizational ladder, some of whom were scheduled to be free agents after the season. That is an important point in the context of these cuts and others around the league since it is assumed there will be no minor-league season in 2020, though an official announcement on that front has not come out yet.
As for the validity of these cuts, there are two points to be made here. One is that cuts like this would have happened in a non-pandemic universe as well. As many around baseball have pointed out, teams make cuts to this degree every year from the end of camp through the draft, and it just happens that they’re happening all at once this year. Some teams are taking this to more extremes than others, but the Red Sox were roughly in the middle of the pack and in line with their normal cuts. The team also committed to paying their minor-leaguers their $400/week stipend through August, which seems like nothing but teams like the A’s are cutting that off within the week and other teams haven’t pledged throughout the whole season.
So, the Red Sox certainly aren’t the worst team in handling all of this, but it should be pointed out that they don’t need to make these cuts either. For one thing, just from a pure baseball standpoint there likely aren’t as many players coming into the organization this summer since the draft is only five rounds, and Boston only has four picks. I don’t have a good sense of how many undrafted players they might sign, but I have a hard time believing it would be nearly enough to approximate a normal class. So, they didn’t need to clear the roster space. Cutting the 22 players results in a measly $123,200. Teams like the Royals committed to making zero cuts in their minor leagues, proving that it is possible. So while the Red Sox certainly weren’t the worst in their handling of this area of their finances, they could have improved as well, at least in terms of saving jobs.
The team was also in the news later in the day when news of their planned salary cuts to other employees in the organziation. Evan Drellich was the first to report the cuts, and later reported the tiered cuts, which you can see below.
Tiers of cuts to Red Sox employees:— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) May 30, 2020
Salary of $50K-99K is 20%
$100 to $499K is 25%
$500K-plus is 30%
Employees making $100K are being treated the same as those making upwards of $500K. Says one employee: “People are livid.”
As Drellich points out, people are livid with these cuts, which don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. For one thing, a $50,000 salary seems like a low floor, particularly in Boston where the cost of living is so extreme. Other organizations have made similar cuts, but started with employees making $75,000 and with 15% cuts. It should be noted, though, that according to Alex Speier these cuts are only on the portions of the salary that exceed the thresholds. These cuts run through the end of the calendar year.