The effects of the COVID-19 virus have once again affected MLB and minor league baseball and potentially the Miami Marlins.
According to CBS Sports and Jeff Passan of ESPN.com, teams across the baseball landscape are releasing minor league players as a direct result of the work stoppage caused by the Coronavirus. It is believed that hundreds of minor league players, who have not been announced yet, will be cut. There is no word yet if players within the Miami Marlins organization will be part of the trimming of rosters, but it appears all 30 professional teams could be involved in the mass exodus.
"Per R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports, “In a typical year, teams release a dozen or more players heading into the season as a means of clearing space and giving those who were waived a chance to latch on elsewhere.“To say the least, this has not been a typical year. The spread of COVID-19 caused the league to shut down weeks before the start of the season, leaving teams with larger rosters than they would have otherwise had at this point in the year.”"
It is also believed the MiLB season will be lost for 2020. No plans have been made yet to resume baseball on a Major League level and the start of minor league seasons has been greatly affected. Here in Jacksonville, the Jumbo Shrimp, which is the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate, is in a holding pattern as the state of Florida continues to reopen businesses in steps.
Other sports facilities, including the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars have reopened their stadiums for business, under the guidelines of the NFL, without players and coaches being allowed in the building.
Losing the minor league season, no matter which level of baseball is being played is a huge blow for not only the players but the Marlins and the 29 other franchises because it takes away from prospect evaluation and being able to promote players as they improve. As part of the proposal by MLB and the owners, a 20-man taxi squad will be used this year to include top prospects.
This could help Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly in how he might use top prospects in what is believed to be an 82-game schedule, which is on the table right now for the MLB players to vote on.
"“There’s little to no chance of a minor-league season taking place this year. Don’t get us wrong: teams might host a modified instructional league later in the year, but that’s about the extent of it. (Heck, some clubs have already furloughed player-development types, too.),” Anderson writes.“Knowing that, teams could make more cuts than usual without fear that they’d have too few players to field full rosters across several affiliates.”"
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The Miami Marlins moved both Monte Harrison and Nick Neidert from the MLB camp once the organization shut down all baseball operations in Jupiter, Florida when the league office put a halt to Spring Training baseball. Both players figure to be part of the taxi squad with an outside shot of being on the 30-man roster to start the season.
While other teams will not pay their minor league prospects a weekly stipend because of the financial crunch of the Coronavirus, the Miami Marlins have announced they would continue to pay their players through what would be the end of the MiLB season. The MLB league office mandated that all teams pay their minor-league players a minimum of $400 per week through this weekend.
Another reason for the release could be part of the plan by MLB to retract minor league teams, which has been a proposal at the feet of MiLB this offseason. The idea is to remove 42 minor league franchises, reducing the number of MLB affiliates, and leave prospects searching for work.
"“Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to overhaul the minors by contracting affiliates and reducing the amount of roster spots held by what teams consider to be non-prospects. At some point, that meant the players deemed excess would have to be cleared from the deck,” Anderson explains.“This could well be that point, with the pandemic serving as the line of demarcation between what the minor leagues were and Manfred’s leaner, cheaper minor-league system.”"