The Mariners have informed around 50 minor leaguers of their release, effective June 1st. Additionally, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Seattle has instituted further cuts to pay for employees, this time focused on the non-Baseball Ops side. The Mariners committed recently to retaining all baseball operations staff (an easy way to remember who is Baseball Ops is who deals directly with people wearing uniforms, including analysts, video coordinators, and the like), but will be making cuts from departments like sales, guest services, game day staff, etc. The Mariners have also committed to paying their remaining minor leaguers their weekly $400 stipend through the remainder of the season in lieu of their salary—“remaining” being an important word here, as the organization has made a significant number of cuts to their minor-league ranks. Early reports pegged the number as around 30; that number was later upped to 45 or even 50 or more.
The Mariners’ recent minor-league cuts were extensive. They released more than 50 players, according to sources.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) May 28, 2020
A full list of the players released has not yet been made public, although some players are announcing their release:
Thank you @Mariners org for an incredible 5 yrs. The relationships made with my teammates & staff are what I will ultimately cherish the most! The opportunity to live out my dream is something I’ll always be thankful for! We will see what’s next, a lot of fight left #grit https://t.co/ct4nv4C2bX— Darin Gillies (@Gillies15) May 28, 2020
While we are aware of other players who have been released, we’re not releasing any names until those cuts have been made public, either by the team or by the players themselves. We can confirm cuts have been made at virtually every level, from veteran players signed to minor-league contracts (including Carlos Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen) to upper level-minors players, and early reports indicate a significant number of players from the DSL Academy have also been let go.
While many of the player cuts would have come in spring training and/or following a normal-sized draft, it’s the disappointing end of a journey for players and employees alike. The cutting down of the draft and looming specter of minor-league contraction—the Mariners are expected to lose their A-ball affiliate, the West Virginia Power—also presaged widespread player cuts. As Jeff Passan put it, minor league ball has been devastated.
While we don’t know the extent of the cuts to non-Baseball Ops employees, it’s been hinted that the combination of pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs will be sizable. Roughly two weeks ago the Mariners pledged no layoffs or furloughs to any Baseball Ops staff, including everyone from front office workers to coaches and trainers throughout the system, and more broadly any employees on a “Uniform Employee Contract” (UEC). At that time, it was announced all executives and Baseball Ops individuals making greater than $60k a year would be taking pay cuts.
The announcements today intimate a similar strategy on the non-baseball specific side of things, with 10-25% cuts for those paid above $60k. As with last time, since executive pay is undisclosed, it’s impossible to know what that actually means in terms of dollars, but departments like sales and ticketing, per Divish, are taking especially big cuts. While they’ve kept their pledge to keep all UEC workers on board, unlike the Athletics and Angels, the cuts are still disappointing and gutting, as are those to the minor leaguers. The day began with the Mariners being celebrated for committing to pay their minor leaguers until the end of the season, and ended with the baseball equivalent of the red wedding.
Agent telling me he heard one club released 50+ minor leaguers yesterday, “So, they can claim they’re still paying guys, but actually threw a third of the system overboard to save what? Less than 300k? (1/2)— emilycwaldon (@EmilyCWaldon) May 28, 2020
(For clarity, it’s not clear if the club indicated above is the Mariners, but so far they are the only team specifically tied to such a large number of releases.)
On the one hand, the minor leaguers cut today were those deemed on the fringes of their organization, and their odds for big league success were lengthy. For some it might be preferable to have clarity and a clean break, not to mention likelier eligibility for social support services and unemployment, at least for the US-based players. But this is also the end of a lifelong dream for those who worked hard enough to be among the few thousand best in the world at what they do, cast adrift at a time when the world is hardly a welcoming place for new job-seekers with one elite skill they can no longer ply. So often our sense of self wraps itself around our work, feeding us confidence in an ability to identify and distinguish our worth by what we do for a living, and whether or not that is healthy, every one of these players lost that today, as did the employees.
As a list of names is released, we will update this article for reference. We would also like to take this time to acknowledge all the minor leaguers who have been released and their contributions to these pages over the years; whether it was a brief appearance in a game recap from Spring Training or the Midshipmen’s Log or a longer analysis or interview, thank you for sharing your time and talent with us.