Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are cutting benefits of baseball operations employees due to the COVID-19 stoppage. Specifically, they have suspended their contributions to employees’ 401(k) plans.
A Pirates spokesman says “These efforts were made to help alleviate the need for furloughs or further salary cuts as this time.”
Teams have taken a variety of different approaches to employment matters since the pandemic began, with some teams — such as the Padres have committed to paying employees through October, though some will be paid at a reduced rate. Most teams have committed through May and are said to be assessing how much longer after that they will pay salaries. The Pirates, Drellich notes, are the first team known to be cutting benefits.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.
The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.