It’s been something that’s been talked about privately for a while now within baseball circles. It’s been something that I’ve spoken about publicly, though more just having thought exercises than actual scoops from baseball employees who have the power to enact something – but it’s felt like there was next to no chance of a minor league season being played in 2020 for at least the last month. And now it seems that words is getting out that Major League Baseball teams are planning as if that will be the case according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Once the idea was put out there in negotiations between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association the writing was on the wall for the most part. They seemed to be acknowledging the unlikelihood of there being a minor league season in 2020.

There are a lot of reasons for this. First is that while the MLB teams pay the minor league players, they don’t own and operate a very large majority of the facilities that are used for the games that the players use at minor league ballparks. Those team owners make all of their money off of ticket and merchandise sales – if they make money at all. Baseball America’s pointed out more than a few times in all of this that even a few rain outs per year can be the difference between a minor league team making money or losing money in a given year.

Unlike their big league counterparts, most teams don’t have broadcast revenue from television deals. The teams that do broadcast their home games in local markets often only do so for some of those games, and they certainly aren’t getting large contracts for doing so like big league clubs who in some cases get hundreds of millions of dollars per year for their broadcast rights (looking at you, Los Angeles Dodgers).

With where we are in society right now, with the inability for health reasons to congregate in large crowds and hold sporting events with fans, minor league teams that aren’t owned and operated by the major league teams have no incentive to open up for games with no revenue possibilities. Opening up would cost them money hand over fist and they wouldn’t be able to pay the bills.

While it’s very unlikely that we will see minor league baseball this year, that doesn’t mean we may not see some sort of fall ball. The Arizona Fall League, Instructional League (that in 2019/2020 actually took place prior to spring training) may still be on the table depending on how things develop with regards to how we handle this pandemic.

13 Responses

  1. Bred

    Another wasted year for Hunter Green and all the guys, but he seems to be snake bit. His ETA is now what 23 or 24?

  2. Tom

    Devastating from a player development standpoint.

  3. Oldtimer

    No surprise. I think MLB season is still iffy (50-50) at best.

    • Stock

      i agree Oldtimer. 50/50 to start the season and I don’t see a post-season if the players are not Quarantined from everyone in AZ/FLA.

    • victor vollhardt

      While most of the time I agree with OLDTIMER 100%—I believe his 50/50 is too optimistic. I have been a Reds fan for 70+ years and I miss baseball- oh so much-(not the DH in the NL though), but under the current “on the ground” conditions it can’t be done in any kind of a competitive way that adheres to true baseball orderly play. If I was a player I wouldn’t want to be put into the positions that news of the current negotiations suggest on a personal basis and for family safety. I also believe that the baseball hierarchy (commissioner, owners and financial partners of all kinds) have of the most part(even while negotiating with the player’s assn.) have plans to use this situation to their advantage and given the monetary losses that have already occurred and now even more so. We have already seen some of this—the draft has been severely contracted and method of bonus payments changed—their original plans for the cutting down the minor leagues now will be expanded as opposition(after 2020 no play no revenue) has been hurt badly. With no 2020 MLB season and a vastly different 2021 season (there is no guarantee that in 2021 virus or financial situations will be solved and in any case there will be a world wide depression)-I believe their talks with the Players Assn. will be easier to create the changes that they have been looking for all along. The world , our country and baseball as we know it will be forever changed and I hope I’m wrong.

      • Oldtimer

        Indeed 2021 will depend on Second Round of virus this winter and whether there is medical treatment for it. I’m not MD but I don’t think there has ever been a cure (vaccine) for any prior coronaviruses. COVID 19 is a coronavirus.

  4. No_comment

    Wow, this seems crazy.

    The latest medical data out of the CDC and Oxford university give COVID 19 an IFR (infection fatality rate) comparable to the common flu, and even better if you don’t live in a nursing home.

    That doesn’t seem like something to shut down a season for.

    • Doug Gray

      The problem is that even if those numbers are true, and I’m not sure that they are, this is far more contagious than the common flu, so it will still wind up killing a whole lot of people (and it has – we’re at 90,000 right now while the country’s been on shelter at home orders for 2 months).

      • Oldtimer

        Agree it is more contagious by far. Recent NYC study showed that those sheltered at home were far more likely to get the virus than others. Even Gov. Cuomo was surprised by that.

        Here in Utah we have been Stay At Home Except For Essential Needs since mid March and have 80 deaths (state population about 3 M) among 7000 who tested positive for virus. Of those, 4000 have recovered. About 100 currently hospitalized. Vast majority of deaths are older people in nursing homes or LTC facilities.

      • No_comment

        I’m not sure it matters how contagious it is, but how deadly it is.

        The IFR is the rate that factors in the population being exposed, so contagiousness is already factored that in.

        So the IFR being comparable to the flu should tell MLB that they should take whatever precautions (if any) that they take during any cold & flu season.

        The numbers aren’t mine, but from the CDC and Oxford University. So if you question the numbers, it’s your research vs theirs.

        Also, considering less than 0.006% of Ohio’s non-nursing home citizens have died. I’m not sure that justifies no Reds, Indians or Dragons?

  5. Brian Hoffman

    Can a player under contract decide to retire?

      • Brian Hoffman

        Thanks Doug, I wonder how many minor leaguers are just going to retire.