The Oakland Athletics are placing their scouts and a significant number of other front office employees on furlough, suspending pay for minor leaguers and cutting the salaries of other executives as part of a cost-cutting move in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A’s owner John Fisher announced the moves Tuesday in a rare public statement on what he called a “tremendously difficult day.”
“Baseball is more than a job — it is a way of life,” Fisher wrote in a letter to fans and staff. “People who work for our team are our family — our very foundation — and they work tirelessly to help the A’s compete in this most precious game. COVID-19 has brought a tragic loss of life and sickness to so many in our community, and it has impacted us all in ways we could have never imagined. Our organization, like so many others across the country, has had to make tough and painful decisions.”
The furloughs for the scouts and other front office personnel will begin next week, although the team’s amateur scouts are expected to stay on through the draft on June 10-11.
Minor leaguers will stop receiving $400 weekly stipdends next week.
The A’s will continue to pay the health care, 401k and pension costs for their employees.
The team also will cut pay for all front office employees making more than $60,000, with the biggest cuts coming to the highest-paid employees.
“I know that many of you will wonder why the A’s are cutting costs now,” Fisher wrote. “Nobody knows how this pandemic will evolve over the long term. What is clear is that our revenues will be dramatically reduced this year. None of this diminishes the pain of today’s actions, but it is an honest acknowledgement of the circumstances of the moment.”
Fisher, whose family founded the clothing retailer the Gap, is worth more than $2 billion, according to Forbes.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are reducing pay for team employees who make over $75,000 because of the coronavirus pandemic. A team spokesman confirmed multiple media reports that said cuts range from 15% to 35% on salaries above $75,000. There will be no cuts for employees making less than that.
“This plan allows us to avoid organization-wide furloughs and to preserve hundreds of jobs,” the team said later in a statement. “Over the last several weeks, we have considered every way to better withstand the challenges presented by the virus. Today — while we remain very hopeful that there will be a 2020 season — we are implementing a number of measures to reduce our costs. We remain ready to play as soon as that becomes feasible.”
The baseball season has been put on hold since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Owners and players are in negotiations about playing an abbreviated 82-game schedule, likely without fans.