Around three months after Minor League Baseball was due to open play, the 2020 season was canceled Tuesday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move came after Major League Baseball (MLB) informed Minor League Baseball (MiLB) that it would not be supplying players for affiliated teams this year.
"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played," MiLB president and CEO Pat O'Conner said in a statement posted on Twitter. "While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment."
The move wipes out play for 160 teams, from Triple-A at the top tier to the Rookie level at the bottom, scrapping a central event of summer life in small towns and big cities.
MLB had already cut down its season from 162 to 60 games, with play scheduled to start on July 30. The losses MLB teams incurred from the wiped-out portion of the schedule, and the prospect of playing much or all of the shortened slate without fans in the stands, led to the economic climate that left clubs unwilling to foot the bill for minor-leaguers' salaries.
Many MiLB teams had laid off or furloughed employees while waiting for a final determination on the season that would have run through approximately Labor Day.
It is unclear how deeply the Tuesday announcement will affect the minors moving forward.
Baseball America reported in April that MiLB agreed to an MLB proposal first proffered last year: a reduction of the number of affiliated from 160 to 120. However, MiLB issued a statement denying the report.
Minor league players under contract to MLB teams were paid $400 weekly stipends during the shutdown through Tuesday.
According to Baseball America, the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees had agreed to extend those payments through July 31.
The Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins reportedly agreed to continue stipends through Aug. 31. The Philadelphia Phillies stated that they will pay minor-leaguers the stipend through Sept. 5, and the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds said they would keep paying through Sept. 7.
The timeframe for the Detroit Tigers was uncertain, per Baseball America.
(Field Level Media)