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Are MiLB Players Getting Cut So Teams Can Save Money?

On March 31st, Jeff Passan reported that “all minor league players will be receiving $400 a week from Major League Baseball teams through at least May 31.”

However, that $400 a week would only apply to players who were still under contract with their teams. 

A day prior to Passan’s news, on March 30th, San Diego Padres minor league pitcher Dylan Hoffman was released. 

Hoffman was one of five players released by San Diego that day.

Hoffman was in rehab recovering from shoulder issues when he got the call.

“I honestly thought they were calling me to inform me about a potential date of return or update me on the money situation, but when they told me I was being released, I didn’t know what I felt at first,” he said. “I was confused.”

Hoffman had no knowledge of any official money system in place prior to the call. All the knowledge he knew was from Twitter.

“I was told it was due to the current situation we are in,” he said. “They only said they were informing me that I was being released due to ‘how things are.’’’

He’s the son of Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffman and nephew of Hall of Fame pitcher Trevor Hoffman who played in San Diego for 16 years. 

“I am very happy I had the opportunity to put on a Padres jersey, it went too quickly and I’m bummed the way it ended,” Hoffman said. “But, they treated me good there and other than being released due to money issues I have nothing but respect.”

Three days earlier than Hoffman’s release, the Oakland A’s released outfielder Matt Koehler.

Koehler was one of 17 released by the Oakland A’s on March 27th, according to Baseball America. 

Koehler said multiple times in an interview that he believes at least 30 players were released in total. 

“Initially, I was shocked. The organization seemed to have a lot of interest in me as a player although I was a later round pick,” Koehler said. “At first, I was angry and confused, but now I’m realizing it was more so a financial move rather than a talent issue when 30 more guys were released.”

Koehler received a call from the A’s new minor league director, where he said “With the coronavirus going on, we’re going to have to release some guys.”

“Some guys,” ended up being 17 plus.

Koehler was a five-year student at Western Carolina. He capped it off with a first-team All-SOCON season hitting .361 with a 1.094 OPS in 51 games. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s and began his professional career in rookie-ball. In 45 games, he hit .249 with a .342 OBP and a .703 OPS. 

Koehler felt confident about the way he ended his first professional season and the way he played at the A’s Fall Instructional League. One thing that wasn’t too great for Koehler was the director of Oakland’s minor league operations, Keith Lippman, retired at the end of the 2019 season. 

Not only did losing Lippman not benefit Koehler, but he believes another deciding factor was that he is 24-years-old. 

“Now looking at it, it was clearly more a money thing. Again, with my age already being older, the odds were not in my favor,” Koehler said. “This would have been a make or break season to sort of prove myself and with it being delayed, I think they went ahead made the decision based on that. Majority of the guys released were.

But, was this all because of the money? It seems extremely odd to cut someone over $400/week when you’re a professional baseball team. 

Let’s do the math.

According to Baseball America, Hoffman was one of five released on the same day. Were the Padres really that worried about an approximate $19,200? 

Baseball America had the Oakland A’s releasing 16 players alongside Koehler, did $54,400 scare Oakland that much?

Every spring, many minor league players get released for plenty of reasons: they show they aren’t ready to advance to the next level, they struggle where they are, or it’s just time for both to move on. 

In this case, it didn’t seem like any of these were factors. 

In Koehler’s case, on the team he played for last summer, his OPS and OBP was ranked third in players that played at-least 30 games. He also received the third most plate appearances out of anyone else on the roster. Would the A’s give that much of an opportunity to someone they didn’t believe in?

In 2019, the Oakland A’s released eight players from March 22 to April 5

This year, they released at least 17 in just one day.

Spring cuts are normal, but they seem increasingly questionable when they are days before a requirement to pay players is set to begin. 

It’s clear that players were cut to save money, and now their chances of getting to play MiLB baseball again have been cut slim.  

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