The pipeline to Major League Baseball has officially been cut off for 2020.
In a move that had long been expected, it was announced Tuesday that the Minor League Baseball season has been canceled in the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving thousands of players without a team to play for this summer.
The announcement comes on the heels of MLB informing the minor leagues that it would not provide it players this year.
“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,” 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.”
The news came a day before players began reporting to their team’s respective cities for spring training 2.0, with hopes of an MLB season beginning on July 23. Most teams included at least a handful of top prospects in their 60-player pools for spring training 2.0, and for those that do not make the regular-season roster, there will be an opportunity to continue working out at an alternate site.
But for many others, the cancellation of the minor leagues will be painful, not to mention the impact it will have on team employees and the communities the affiliates call home.
The future of Minor League Baseball was already facing questions before COVID-19. In November, MLB proposed a realignment of farm systems that would eliminate 42 affiliated clubs and reorganize leagues.
Clubs have also been faced with decisions on whether to continue paying their minor leaguers in the midst of baseball’s shutdown, even after most made cuts in May or June. MLB paid minor leaguers $400 per week through May 31, after which the decision about stipends fell on the teams.