Oakland A's lay off 20% of employees across business, baseball operations

©The Mercury News

A wave of layoffs are sweeping Major League Baseball this offseason because of the pandemic’s impact on revenues. The Oakland A’s are part of the wave, with employees losing jobs on both the business and baseball operations side of the organization.

A source said approximately 20% of employees were impacted across baseball and business operations, nearly all of which came from the pool of 150 employees that were furloughed in April of this year. Those impacted were set to return when the furlough was lifted on Oct. 31, but they were informed their positions would not be there for them at the year’s end.

Because of uncertainty revolving around Oakland Coliseum’s permitted capacity in 2021 — if and how many fans will be allowed in the stands — approximately 60 people were laid off from within the ticket sales and marketing sector of the organization. Twenty of the 150 people furloughed in April left on their own terms. But employees that stuck around found out Friday they’d lost their jobs.

“Today was an extremely difficult day,” the A’s said in a statement Friday. “The Oakland A’s have completed a reorganization of full-time staff and informed a number of employees that at the end of the year they will no longer have a position with the Club. These decisions are due to the unprecedented impact and continuing uncertainty of the pandemic on our operations. We are committed to providing support for those impacted by these decisions, including health care, severance, and other assistance programs.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding a minor league season for the 2021 season, most of the baseball operations jobs initially furloughed will be refilled in October — and most scouts returned to work during the 2020 season when scouting restrictions were lifted. However, sources say approximately 10 people in scouting and player development will not return to their posts for next season. Some didn’t have their contracts renewed, others accepted retirement packages.

Al Pedrique’s removal as manager Bob Melvin’s third base coach is not included in those layoffs and is the only coaching change at the pro level so far.

A’s owner John Fisher faced backlash when he decided to furlough nearly all of the A’s amateur and pro scouts and player development department in June, which also made Oakland the first and only team to cut off the $400 stipends for their minor league players. The backlash grew so severe that Fisher ultimately reversed course.

Commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision to suspend the non-uniform employee contracts enabled Fisher and, in theory, other owners to furlough and lay off employees during the thick of the pandemic. That decision sent shockwaves throughout baseball, including the A’s organization. With the 2021 minor league season hinged to the ebbs and flows of the pandemic, fear that player development could be further impacted remains.

In support, the A’s are continuing to provide health care and 401(k) contributions for all furloughed employees. They also hope to re-hire the jobs lost in ticket sales, marketing and events once MLB teams get the all-clear to have fans back in the stands, which may not be the case until the 2022 season.

All eyes will be on the California State Department of Public Health, which lifted restrictions mid-October to allow pro sports teams to begin selling a limited number of tickets at open air stadiums. If restrictions remain lifted into next spring, the A’s would need to get clearance from Alameda County to host a specific number of fans for A’s games in 2021.

The A’s are not the only team to make staff cuts. The San Francisco Giants laid off 10% of its full-time staff of 500 people. The Boston Red Sox also eliminated 10% of its staff. The Miami Marlins cut 50 jobs and the Chicago Cubs let go of 107 people.

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©2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)