Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper and Josh Norris report that the 2020 Minor League Baseball season is cancelled and will likely be announced today.
The news isn’t particularly surprising, given the pandemic and the league’s near-total reliance on gate revenues. It was simply not feasible for the minors to play games without admitting fans. In the interim between baseball starting and now, many minor league teams have gotten creative with creating revenue opportunities. As we noted last month, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos — the Twins’ Double-A affiliate — listed their stadium on AirBnB, offering fans the opportunity to spend the night at the ballpark. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants short-season Single-A) have done the same. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies Triple-A) allowed paying fans to play Topgolf at the stadium. As Cooper and Norris point out, other teams have done things like drive-in movies, farmers markets, and other food-related events. They’ll have to continue doing so in order to stay afloat.
2020 has been brutal for Minor League Baseball. Late last year, we learned of MLB’s intent to cut 42 teams from the minors. Even before the pandemic, players and the myriad other MiLB personnel went into the 2020 season with that dark cloud hanging over them. Then the pandemic devastated the United States and gave MLB the opportunity to follow through with its plan to shrink the minors. Meanwhile, the players, who make very little money in the minors, had to suddenly find income opportunities elsewhere, but still had to be ready to potentially start a season at some point. The lost year means those players lose a year of development time. For some journeymen, it zeroes out their chances of realizing their dream of making it to the majors. Those that do make it to the major leagues will be reaching free agency a year later, which will impact their earning potential.
Major League Baseball is utilizing 60-player “pools” for the 2020 season, but it will be pared down to 28 players on the 14th day of the season and 26 players on the 29th day. Teams will also utilize three-player “taxi squads” when traveling. In that regard, there are ever so slightly more opportunities for some minor leaguers this year, but that’s the brightest spot that can be found in this dark year.
Update (5:01 PM ET): It’s official. The milb 2020 season is cancelled.