While there’s some optimism that we’ll see Major League Baseball at some point this year — even if the most optimistic say we’re a couple months away — the same can’t be said for Minor League Baseball.
Not only are minor league players in a holding pattern like their big league counterparts, but like many businesses right now, minor league teams are wondering how much longer they’ll be able to stay afloat — even outside of MLB considering cutting a large number of affiliated teams.
Earlier this week, The San Antonio Express-News detailed some of the problems facing the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate there. While the Brewers pay the salaries of coaches and players, the San Antonio Missions are responsible for paying more than two dozen full-time staffers, not to mention the gameday stadium staff who can’t earn a living as long as no games are being played.
Team president Burl Yarbrough says unlike MLB, which could still make money by playing games without fans due to TV contracts, fan-less games aren’t an option for minor league teams, because clubs like his depend on gameday revenue — ticket sales, concessions, etc. — to make their money outside of anything that may be outlined in their player development contract with major league teams.
That has Yarbrough saying furloughs and firings for staff not paid by the Brewers are coming, even as he doesn’t have a clear idea of the total impact a shortened or cancelled season would have.
“That’s going to have to happen,” Yarbrough said. “It’s coming. Certainly the longer this goes on.”
Another complicating factor for the Missions — their player development contract with the Brewers is supposed to expire at the end of the 2020 season.
While we don’t know whether the Brewers are interested in continuing the relationship, contract extension negotiations can’t even begin until Minor League Baseball as a whole has a new deal with Major League Baseball, which expires in September and has been contentious amid MLB’s reported desire to drop dozens of minor league affiliates.
That leaves the Missions — like many other businesses — left with nothing to do but wait. But if the minor league season is in jeopardy of being canceled altogether, the Missions may have already played their last game as part of the Brewers’ farm system.