The Nationals are among the teams who released several minor leaguers within the last week, with Brittany Ghiroli and Emily Waldon of The Athletic (subscription required) reporting that the defending World Series champions cut somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 players. As for the remaining players in Washington’s farm system, the club will be paying them $300 per week through the month of June — down from the $400 weekly stipend that has become the norm throughout baseball, as per the March agreement between the players and the league. “The Nationals are believed to be the only Major League team paying a lower stipend amount,” Ghiroil and Waldon write, though the Athletics announced earlier this week that they would be ending the stipend entirely at the end of May.
Just as the A’s were heavily criticized for their decision, the Nats have already taken some heat for the stipend cut, considering that the total amount of money being saved is so relatively minor for a billion-dollar franchise. As one unnamed Nationals minor league put it, even a reduced stipend is better than being released, but “For us lucky ones still getting help, it’s bittersweet. I wish the owners really weighed how much that $100 they cut us back is saving them versus how much it helps put food on the table for us and our families.”
[UPDATE: Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle tweeted that he and the rest of Washington’s Major League roster will be supporting their organization’s minor leaguers by “committing funds to make whole the lost wages from their weekly stipends. All of us were minor leaguers at one point in our careers and we know how important the weekly stipends are for them and their families during these uncertain times.”]
More from around baseball…
- The January swap with the Rays that saw the Cardinals acquire left-hander Matthew Liberatore “could be a monster trade” for the Redbirds, an American League scout tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There is a small clutch of the best pitching prospects in the minors, and I don’t think you could find 10 better than Liberatore,” the scout said, reinforcing the belief that the Cards have quickly been able to reload its young pitching depth (and its left-handed depth, specifically, as Liberatore and 2019 first-rounder Zack Thompson are both southpaws). The full trade saw St. Louis and Tampa swap draft picks in Competitive Balance Rounds A and B — the Cards got the lower of the two selections — and exchange Liberatore and minor league catcher Edgardo Rodriguez for Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. Since Martinez and Arozarena were both somewhat blocked in the crowded Cardinals’ depth chart, moving them for a very promising young starter indeed looks like a shrewd move for St. Louis, as the Cards lost little from their big league roster.
- While much of the discussion surrounding the 2020 draft has focused on its reduced length, the biggest story talent-wise has been the amount of quality college pitching available. “It’s just remarkable how loaded this class is in terms of arms,” an area scout tells Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, with a team scouting director also noting that “the depth and the amount of really good arms, I don’t know if I’ve seen one like this in my lifetime.” As a result, due to the abbreviated nature of this year’s draft, there should be several good college pitchers available in free agency once the draft’s five rounds are complete.
- The first overall pick, however, is expected to be a position player, as Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson has been increasingly thought to be the Tigers’ 1-1 choice. Detroit scouting director Scott Pleis didn’t drop any hints to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, saying that “we continue to talk” about who the top pick might be, with “five or six guys” included in the final list of potential candidates. Beyond Torkelson, Callis hears from sources that the Tigers are also looking at several other of the consensus top prospects of this year’s class, such as Austin Martin, Asa Lacy, Nick Gonzales, and Emerson Hancock. “Officials with other clubs would be surprised if Detroit doesn’t take Torkelson,” Callis writes.