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Amid uncertainty of season, Angels decide to furlough some employees

Angel Stadium entrance.
The coronavirus shutdown has kept Angel Stadium and other major league ballparks across the country quiet this spring.
(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Count the Angels among the businesses that have succumbed to the financial stresses caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The team will begin furloughing some non-playing employees in June. The affected group includes members of the player development support staff, minor league coaches and coordinators, and most scouts. All will continue to receive healthcare benefits and have access to a new employee assistance fund, into which the Angels will deposit $1 million for grants.

“We, like businesses throughout the United States, are making difficult decisions to protect our long-term stability,” Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said in a statement.

The Angels last month pledged to pay their full-time employees through May. So did most of the 30 teams, including the high-revenue Dodgers, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, and World Series champion Washington Nationals.

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But the uncertainty surrounding a potential return to play in both the major and minor leagues, combined with two months’ worth of revenue losses caused by the lack of regular season games, has forced teams to reconsider their business model heading into June. The Miami Marlins will furlough 40% of their baseball operations staff. The Cincinnati Reds announced they would furlough at least 25% of their employees effective June 1.

The Tampa Bay Rays were the first to implement aggressive cost-cutting measures, putting some employees on furlough and cutting the pay of others in late April.

The Anaheim City Council has granted Angels owner Arte Moreno more time to determine whether he wants to walk away from Angel Stadium development deal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred gave teams freedom to slash payroll when he suspended uniform employee contracts earlier this month, citing the national emergency. More teams are expected to use the advantage.

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The Seattle Mariners chose to avoid layoffs and furloughs. Beginning June 1 and extending through October, the Mariners will cut by at least 20% the salaries of baseball operations and field staff employees who make $60,000 or more a year. The New York Mets implemented similar salary cuts for their non-playing full-time employees — with the stipulation the cuts might be extended if the season is not played.

The possibility of a summer without baseball persists. Team owners approved a plan for spring training to start again in June and the season to begin in early July, but the league and the players’ association are in the early stages of negotiations. Part of that plan came to light over the weekend when MLB’s extensive safety protocols for an abbreviated season became public. The guidelines call for frequent testing and limits of behaviors, such as a ban on high-fives and restraints on off-field socialization.

The major point of contention is MLB’s proposal of a 50-50 revenue-sharing plan between players and teams. Players would be forced to take a larger pay cut than the one they previously agreed to — players and teams decided in March salaries would be prorated.


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