The Chicago Cubs cut two minor league players on Thursday as the purge on Minor League begins for Major League Baseball teams.
The Chicago Cubs cut two minor league players on Thursday as what is sure to be a purge on minor league players and affiliates begin.
Under normal circumstances, the transaction of the Cubs cutting two minor league players likely does not make the news cycle.
But these are not normal times.
Major League Baseball has suspended all on field activities due to the Coronavirus pandemic and they have begun a negotiating war with their players over what the players should be paid once the shortened season begins.
With the expected loss in profit, Major League Baseball owners are looking to save money where they can. That is why there is a rather large target on Minor League players and affiliates considering they are on the lower end of an organization’s baseball operation budget.
In what may be the first domino to fall, Major League Baseball teams have began cutting minor league players. The Cubs were among those teams.
Brock Stewart signed with the Cubs on a minor league deal this past off-season. In 13 appearances between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays in 2019, Stewart posted a 9.82 ERA.
Carlos Asuaje was non-roster invitee to Spring Training for the Cubs and did not appear in a Major League Baseball game last season.
The Cubs have already committed to paying their players, including minor leaguers like Stewart and Asuaje, through the end of June. But the issue for Stewart and Asuaje becomes what happens after June.
Even before the Coronavirus had a direct impact on Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred was aiming to significantly decrease the number of Minor League Baseball affiliates in Major League Baseball.
Manfred, as outlined by the Bill Madden of New York Daily News, was planning on taking a bulldozer to the Minor Leagues:
Forty-two of the 160 minor league teams (26%) guaranteed under the present, expiring Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors will be eliminated, most of them from the four short season Rookie Leagues — the New York-Penn, Appalachian, Northwest and Pioneer.
When this plan was outlined last fall, Manfred faced immediate pushback from baseball purists as even the common follower of Major League Baseball is aware that the Minor League Baseball affiliates is often the long-term investment for the Major League team’s roster.
The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the Coronavirus pushed the talk of the destruction of Minor League Baseball to the side.
But with Major League Baseball owners and the Major League Baseball Players Association beginning the talks of how to begin the season, the destruction of Minor League Baseball is slowly coming back to the forefront.
With that comes a frightening realization.
Manfred, under the mask of the Coronavirus, could begin to push his agenda of purging Minor League Baseball. That is why the post-June futures for players such as Stewart and Asujae is frightening.
Reason being there is no known future. Stewart and Asuaje are just the beginning of what likely will be hundreds if not thousands of Minor League Players that will soon be released by their respective organization. Such a purging would have a massive impact on a team like the Cubs that have invested a significant amount of resources into their Minor League operations.
For the Cubs, much of the coming two years were dedicated to restoring the talent that they had in their Minor League system. The idea being that the restored talent would eventually lead to the reconstruction of the streamline of talent from the Minor League level to the Major League level.
Without that reconstruction, the Chicago Cubs may not see a World Series window for quite some time. And that is why, the idea of Minor League Baseball players beginning to be cut is quite noteworthy.