Minor League Baseball has still made no announcement about the 2020 season, though that could come as soon as later today after MiLB holds a board of trustees meeting. Even with the report of a potential decision following the meeting from Evan Drellich of The Athletic, the writing has been on the wall that there’s not going to be a minor league season for quite a while. Teams have been planning around the idea that there wasn’t likely to be one for the last 2+ months now.
JJ Cooper of Baseball America reported late on Monday evening that minor league players who are not going to be on the 60-man player roster are eligible to sign with and play for independent league baseball teams due to the fact that their current contracts are currently suspended because of the a national emergency. The only thing stopping this is that the players must get permission from their Major League team to do so.
There could be a few hiccups along the way. First would be the fact that many independent teams and leagues will not be playing any games this year, so being able to find a team to play for could be a hurdle. Second could be that just like the actual minor leagues, the pay isn’t always enough to make it work – especially if there’s not a system set up to help provide living arrangements with a “host family”.
But perhaps the biggest one is the question of “will I be ‘punished’ for taking this kind of opportunity” – one of the immediate things that popped into my mind when I saw the announcement from JJ Cooper on Monday was that I could see some organizations holding it against a player. As Emily Waldon shared from a player later in the evening, I wasn’t the only one thinking that way.
One minor leaguer on Indy ball announcement. pic.twitter.com/ADA4Xl6p9D
— emilycwaldon (@EmilyCWaldon) June 30, 2020
There’s also some risk involved when it comes to injuring yourself. If you get hurt while playing elsewhere how is your organization going to react? If a pitcher, for example, were to tear their UCL and require Tommy John surgery, normally that is covered by the team, as well as the rehab – but what happens if a pitcher does so while pitching for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant team? That’s a big question that hopefully won’t have to be answered, but it’s a question that every player should be asking themselves as the answer is vitally important to their future and weighing the risk/reward of such a decision is huge.