Major League Baseball has informed Minor League Baseball that it will not be providing its affiliated Minor League teams with players for the 2020 season. As expected, the result forced Minor League Baseball to officially cancel its 2020 campaign.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we’ve had a summer without Minor League Baseball played,” said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O’Conner. “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 entertainment.”
The cancellation of the season comes at a difficult time for Minor League teams, many of which are simply trying to stay afloat financially.
“Each club is different as you know, but overall, we are in need of some help,” said O’Conner. “We’ve gone to Congress…HR Bill 7023 is a lifeline loan program to federal reserve. There will be a companion Bill in the Senate shortly, but it’s really necessary to get us through. Many of our clubs qualified for PTP money that the Congress issued through one of the first stimulus packages. That was a bandaid on a hemoraging industry. So we’re just treading water, trying to see our way through this. We’re looking at 17 months of no revenue to speak of, so it has really been a challenge.”
The Milwaukee Brewers have about 240 minor league players in their organization and would love to still find a way to get at least some of them together restrictions were to be loosened. But, as Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “the thing we’ve done the most of is just planning for different contingencies. Obviously nobody can control what’s going to happen with COVID or what’s going to be allowed or now allowed. But in terms of planning, nothing’s off the table.
Flanagan added, “We’ve basically planned for all different scenarios – if we’ll be allowed by governmental standards or restrictions. If we’re allowed to get guys together again we would look forward to doing that, but obviously we’re taking it day by day, and the plans are only as good as the environment will allow.”
For the “Class A” Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, there will be no baseball this summer.
“Although we are disappointed with today’s news that the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers season, along with the rest of the 2020 Minor League season, has been canceled, we understand the reasoning and look forward to bringing back Timber Rattlers baseball in 2021”, said Timber Rattlers President, Rob Zerjav. “We will do our best to develop some additional ways to utilize the ballpark this summer and look forward to welcoming fans out in new and creative ways.”
One of those creative ways involves the Brewers big league club. Fox Cities Stadium has been selected as the Alternate Training Site of the Milwaukee Brewers. Members of Milwaukee’s “Taxi Squad” will practice at the home of the Timber Rattlers during the Major League season to be ready in case they are needed by the Brewers during the shortened regular season. The Timber Rattlers are working with Major League Baseball on the possibility of fans being allowed to watch the practices and will have an announcement when more information is available to the team.
A number of Minor League teams we’re already identified as potentially being on the chopping block as MLB attempts to streamline. The Brewers rookie-league affiliate, the Rocky Mountain Vibes, have been mentioned as one of those possibilities.
The Beloit Snappers were also said to be on that list at one time, but a new stadium is being built for the Snappers in downtown Beloit and the club, which is in the process of new ownership, has saved that club from contraction.
This will be the first summer without minor league action since it was founded in 1901.