A long-expected move became official Tuesday as Minor League Baseball officially canceled its 2020 season.
"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in history that we've had a summer without Minor League Baseball played," MiLB president and CEO Pat O'Conner said in a statement. "While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment."
As we’re seeing with Major League Baseball, pulling off a minor league season would have come with numerous hurdles. There are 160 teams spread across the country, and properly implementing health and safety protocols — such as frequent testing — would have been difficult with the available resources.
Further, MLB suspended its working agreement with MiLB due to the pandemic and has yet to reinstate it. MLB teams are carrying 60-man player pools this season (those available to play in 2020), many of which would have been in the minors in a normal campaign. So, minor league teams would have had to supply their own players.
And, from a pure incentive standpoint, MLB has lucrative postseason TV deals as a financial motivation to try and play in 2020.
The announcement is devastating for MiLB from top to bottom. Hundreds of players won’t play organized professional baseball this year. Some MLB teams have committed to paying players $400 stipends through September, but what comes after is uncertain. Season-ticket holders will likely ask for refunds. With no game-day revenue, clubs will have to furlough or lay off employees.
This all follows a very public fight to axe around 40 teams after this season, according to reports, as MLB attempts to restructure the minor league system. One reported proposal more or less entailed the elimination of rookie ball and Class A short season.
MiLB denied any contraction has officially been agreed to in April, however.
South Bend also will be home to the Cubs’ alternate training site this season for those in the player pool not on the active regular season roster.