Detroit Tigers News

Detroit Tigers: Rob Manfred Allowing Changes In Pay

LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 01: A detailed view of a pair of official Rawlings Major League Baseball baseballs with the imprinted signature of Robert D. Manfred Jr., the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, sitting in the dugout prior to the Spring Training game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 1, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Yankees 10-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL - MARCH 01: A detailed view of a pair of official Rawlings Major League Baseball baseballs with the imprinted signature of Robert D. Manfred Jr., the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, sitting in the dugout prior to the Spring Training game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on March 1, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers defeated the Yankees 10-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will allow teams to furlough or reduce pay to some employees. The effects of the shutdown could bring potential career changes across all levels of baseball.

As reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, (subscription required) Major League Baseball will inform clubs today of a decision that will give them greater flexibility in dealing with non-playing personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting on May 1st, the suspension of the Uniform Employee Contracts will be enabled under the direction of Rob Manfred, according to MLB sources. This will allow for individual franchises to furlough employees or reduce their pay.

Before we get to what it means for staff, employees, and the minor leaguers, per Jeff Passan’s article on ESPN, a reminder of how contracts would work under the agreement MLB and the Players Associates agreed to in late March: Their salaries for 2020 will be prorated. If teams play an 81-game schedule, players will get 50% of their full, agreed-upon money. If they play 120 games, they will receive 74%. Per the same agreement between MLB and the Players Association, they cant sue for salaries.

To make matters worse for the players, Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic write that empty-stadium games (The games in Arizona and Florida only ideas) could have owners asking the players to take a reduction in salary, citing the loss of revenue of ticket sales.

I admit, before the whole pandemic starting, I never heard of the word “furlough” before. According to Dictionary.com, the word comes ” from the Dutch verlof, which is related to the English word leave.”

The definition states it is a “temporary lay off from work”.  Also, according to Dictionary.com, one piece of information stands out.

In general, people are not paid during furloughs but they do keep employment benefits, such as health insurance. Furloughs are mandatory. Workers are ordered not to do anything work-related while they are on furlough.

The reason why I bring up the definition is what could happen next for employees and minor-leaguers. The longer this continues, the high possibility that employees like scouts and coaches would continue to lose their salaries. Teams with tight budgets could even cut positions but that would just be just bad press. It did not stop the NHL, however, who cut salaries by 25% in the league office per the report on ESPN.

Minor leaguers are still getting the raw deal out of this. After they received raises to start the year back in February, players were set to receive the following raises per the Associated Press story:

  • Rookie and short-season (Norwich, GCL teams)  $290 to $400
  • Class A (West Michigan and Lakeland) $290 to $500.
  • Double-A  (Erie) $350 to $600
  • Triple-A (Toledo)  $502 to $700.

While minor league players are getting a weekly stipend that runs through the end of May of $400 a week, players in the higher levels are still losing out as evidence of the pay scale above. To make matters worse, if the “Arizona Plan” or the temporary realignment of MLB’s divisions to where they stay in their spring training facilities and play the teams closest to them, there has been no discussion of where or when the minor league season could even start.

These minor league teams lack huge media deals to keep teams afloat and only make money when the season is going on. There is a strong possibility many minor league teams may not survive this. Before the pandemic, MLB was discussing getting rid of as many as 40 teams. As cruel as this next sentence will read, this whole crisis may give MLB reasons to push the agenda again.

Rob Manfred is among a group of 200 leaders from various industries that will be part of an adversary panel the President has put together called the Great American Economic Revival. The purpose of the panel is “to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity.”  We will see what route Rob Manfred will take to make prosperity happen for not just all players on all levels involved but all who work for baseball at any capacity.

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