Athletics owner changes course, agrees to pay minor leaguers: 'I concluded I’d made a mistake'

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

After originally deciding to stop paying minor league players as of June 1, Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher changed course on Friday.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Fisher is now committed to paying minor league players their weekly $400 stipend through the end of the scheduled minor league season.

“I changed my mind after spending a lot of time talking to our team,” Fisher said in the Chronicle story. “I concluded I’d made a mistake.”

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Fisher noted that team president Dave Kaval, vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane and general manager David Forst were part of the conversation.

A’s were first team to stop paying minor leaguers

An MLB-wide agreement only required teams to continue paying minor league players through May 31. Oakland was the only club to exercise that option.

Not surprisingly, the club’s decision was met with backlash. Most of that backlash was directed right at Fisher.

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

“I’ve listened to our fans and others, and there is no question that this is the right thing to do,” Fisher said. “We clearly got this decision wrong. These players represent our future and we will immediately begin paying our minor-league players. I take responsibility and I’m making it right.”

The A’s now join a much larger group of teams committed to paying minor league players through Aug. 31. The Kansas City Royals not only made that commitment under new owner John Sherman, but general manager Dayton Moore sent a powerful message in support of minor league players. Perhaps that message is resonating around the league.

Fisher also announced the club will also set up an emergency assistance fund for employees that have been furloughed.  

A’s skipped Oakland Coliseum rent

The A’s have also drawn criticism after skipping an annual $1.2 million rent payment to the Oakland Coliseum in April.

At the time, the A’s said they were not able to generate revenue with the Coliseum closed and Major League Baseball shutdown due to the coronavirus, and therefore had no ability to make the payment.

On Thursday, A’s president Dave Kaval said the team will be able to pay the rent once it meets with Alameda County officials and discusses a plan to safely open the Oakland Coliseum. The team plans to have the stadium if and when MLB and the MLB players association reach an agreement on a 2020 season.

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