After taking backlash for furloughing most of its baseball and business operations and cutting weekly stipends for its minor leaguers, the Oakland A’s are reversing course and making amends.
Reclusive owner John Fisher penned in a statement that the decision to cut off minor league stipends at the end of May was “a mistake.”
“After spending the last few days listening to the important input from our fans and others, we will immediately begin paying our minor league players,” Fisher said in the statement. “These players represent our future and clearly our decision to not pay them was a mistake. The truth is that we got this decision wrong, and I apologize to our minor league players and others involved.”
The players will now receive the weekly stipend for the rest of what would have been the minor league season.
Baseball America reported that, prior to Fisher’s announcement, the A’s were the only MLB team not to commit the $400 weekly stipend to its minor league players. A revamped, five-round MLB Draft leaves behind a large pool of un-drafted players. The A’s decision could have hindered the signing of remaining un-drafted players.
The decision also revitalized a demoralized minor league system, who heard the news as it was reported by the media.
“It was very important. It shows that they realized they made a mistake initially and apologized and corrected it,” said Peter Bayer, a pitcher for the Stockton Ports who said in light of the initial decision that it would be difficult to return to the team that claims to care for its own.
“I’m sure all of the minor leaguers are going to be relieved and regain trust in the organization. I also think that all of us now can spend more time training and preparing for when a season does start with a clear mind. I also wanted to take back all of my comments that I previously made and start focusing on what is important.”
“Respect to the A’s organization for reversing their decision to pay the minor leaguers!!! This will play a very crucial role in the future of our franchise,” A’s minor leaguer JJ Schwarz said in a tweet. “I don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready for some baseball!!”
The minor league season, though, is expected to be cancelled due to the coronavirus shutdown.
The A’s will also be setting up an emergency assistance fund for its furloughed employees, Fisher said in the statement. More than half of the organization’s employees, including scouts, coaches, front office and business operations, will be furloughed through Oct. 31.
“There is no question that this is a painful time period for our employees, and we want to do everything possible to assist them during this time.”
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Author: Shayna Rubin