Over the weekend I reached out on Patreon to the supporters there of the work done here at the site and asked for some questions for a mailbag article. Today we are getting around to answering the questions that were submitted. If you’re interested in supporting the site and the work done, you can check out Patreon.com/RedsMinorLeagues.
I’m still not convinced that the 60 game MLB season will go off as planned. What are your thoughts?
I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t with you. And we aren’t alone. Several players have expressed the idea that they aren’t sure things are going to go as smoothly as hoped. And of course, there are players that have opted out of playing, too. We’re seeing in other sports where facilities have been shut down, in MLS, in the NHL, and in the NBA in the last few week. MLB had a league-wide facility shut down and clean about two weeks ago, too. In the last few days we’ve had MLB teams cancel practice, and push back practices because test results weren’t taken care of in time. The Phillies have had three coaches test positive according to Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic.
I’m hoping for the best. I hope that no team sees an actual outbreak and spread. I’m hoping that anyone who does get sick doesn’t take it home to their family and no one suffers any impact from it. But the reality of the situation is that isn’t likely to happen that way.
As far as I’ve seen, no one has been able to find out what the plan would be if a team has an outbreak large enough that they can’t field a competitive team. Hopefully we don’t have to find out.
I see there are a limited number of media at GABP for workouts. Do you think it would be possible for you to get into the taxi squad workouts? If so is a live broadcast on a social media platform possible?
While there are limited spots at Great American Ballpark for various types of media members, the secondary sites are closed off to media for summer workouts and during the regular season once games begin. You will not be seeing much of anything from there beyond today. While I have not checked with all teams, I have spoken to writers with a few other organizations and their secondary sites are closed off, too – so this may be a full on Major League Baseball rule rather than something Reds specific.
Why today? Well, I’m typing this answer on Sunday night as some of the questions have come in. On Monday, according to the Reds official notes for the media, there will reportedly be an incredibly limited window. The local Cincinnati television stations will be there for 30 minutes, and then “all other local media” gets 30 minutes after that. That’s it. Reading the notes, it appears that will be the only time the facility is open to anyone that isn’t employed by the Reds. So if you haven’t seen it by the time this is published, you probably aren’t going to see it.
Now, with that said, I am hoping to still be able to talk to some people in the organization about some of the things that are going on there and how players are developing/looking.
What is happening to the minor league players who are not in the 60 player pool? Are they free to play independent league? Getting instruction/coaching from the organization, what? What about the players in the Dominican League? Any word on what is happening there?
Let’s start off with the independent league aspect of things. Players can request to be allowed to play independent league baseball this year, but their teams do not have to allow it. Some teams have already agreed to let some players do so. I have not heard of anyone within the Reds organization asking to, or being granted the opportunity.
Players who have asked and been granted are being asked to sign a waiver acknowledging that any injuries that happen while playing will not be covered by their Major League team. This puts the players in a tough spot because if the injury were to happen while training, for example, they would be covered. Some players have also expressed that they feel like there could be something held against them if they do ask, so they don’t believe the reward is worth the risk.
Players not on the 60-man player pool are getting some instruction and coaching from the organization. It’s essentially all virtual stuff, along with workout regimes and stuff. On Monday the Reds minor league field coordinator spoke a bit about this.
“It’s unfortunate as we all know. A lot of guys are not going to be able to play, or if they are, it’s going to be very limited as the year goes on,” said Tremie. “Our challenge is to try and do everything remotely that we can to give them material and give them information, give them routines to do and to stay on that they can do safely. And that’s another big factor is that we’ve got to make sure that they are in a spot or a place where it’s safe for them to do that. We obviously advise them to make sure they feel that way first and they protect themselves and their families first. But then have routines for things they can do and work on and continue to develop as much as we can possibly, without having games and interaction as normal.”
With things in the Dominican Republic, MLB has facilities there closed, as well as the local ordinances are keeping them closed for now. It’s been that way since March. I’m told that the organization, just like here in the US, is working with the health and performance team to prepare for any and all scenarios – including a situation where things improve and there can be a re-opening for something like an instructional league if and when it’s safe for everyone to come back to the complex. For now, again like it is here in the US, the players are back at their homes and in contact with the coaches, health, and performance staff – all of whom are doing what they can to help the players while not actually being able to be with them.
At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, a dozen or so players from non-US countries remained in Arizona. What happened to them? Are any of them still there?
The players who had to remain in the United States are still here, almost all of them in Goodyear at team housing. They haven’t been able to return home because the borders are still closed to incoming flights due to the pandemic. Those players, like the rest of the Reds minor leaguers not on the 60-man player pool are receiving $400 per week. I’ve been told that Reds staff is in contact with these guys often to make sure they have the things they need, they are safe, – and like everyone else, they are in contact with the coaching staff, health and performance staff frequently to try and do what can be done to still be improving where they can from a baseball perspective. I’ve also been told that the team is doing what they can to be sure to get these players home as soon as it’s safe and practicable to do so.
Do you have any expectations for how minor league free agency will work this year, given what is surely a wave of players coming on the market?
Right now, no. The reason is pretty simple: I don’t know how many minor league teams are going to exist next year. If the plan goes through to eliminate 40-something affiliated teams, that’s a lot of roster spots that no longer exist or need filled. If that plan doesn’t go through, well, there are a lot more openings to be had. When you factor in that a lot of minor league teams are simply trying to stay afloat right now in any way possible, and the expectation is that some of them won’t be able to and may need to fold – it just adds a big wrinkle to the entire conversation.