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Texas Rangers change course, furlough 12% of employees

Club had instituted pay cuts early in pandemic in effort to avoid layoffs.

Faced with the economic reality of a season with no fans in the stands, Rangers ownership on Tuesday indefinitely furloughed 12% of their employees, a total that came to just under 60 employees.

The Rangers had been among the first organizations in the majors to institute pay cuts when COVID-19 shut down baseball, but ownership had steadfastly maintained it had no plans for furloughs. But the Rangers had also been hopeful of fans being allowed into Globe Life Field this season after Gov. Greg Abbott issued directives allowing up to 50% capacity at pro sports venues.

Last week, however, Major League Baseball announced it would open the season to empty stadiums on July 23 and would re-evaluate attendance policies for August. The furloughs offset a number of new hires the Rangers had made in the 10 months leading up to the expected opening of $1.2 billion Globe Life Field. Approximately 50 employees had been hired.

The employees who were furloughed on Tuesday will receive two weeks of severance pay and will continue to receive medical benefits through October. They ranged across both baseball operations and business, including operations outside of the Arlington offices. The Rangers organization also includes foreign employees across Latin America and Asia in scouting roles.

“In March, as we were confronted with the coronavirus pandemic, my goal was to avoid furloughs,” Managing Partner Ray Davis said in a statement. “Unfortunately, after four months of cost saving measures, budget cuts and salary decreases, the severe financial consequences of the shutdown and lingering uncertainty about when we will play in front of fans, have left us out of options.

“Effective today, we instituted furloughs across our organization. The furloughs, which touch a number of baseball and business departments, reflect the realities of playing in an empty Globe Life Field, the shutdown of minor league baseball and other considerations related to the business challenges we face.

“I understand this causes significant hardship for some of our employees and their families. We have spent a great deal of time trying to find another course that would be less painful. I wish there was another way, but this decision is necessary for us to endure this crisis and emerge as strong as possible on the other side.

“I remain optimistic that we will be able to welcome our furloughed employees back to work in the future.”

A number of other teams, mostly in small-markets, had already gone through layoffs or furloughs in the last three months. Among them: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Miami, Oakland and Tampa Bay. The Marlins furloughed almost 40 percent of their baseball operations in June on a month-to-month basis. The Pirates laid off approximately 40 employees over two rounds of cuts in June. Cincinnati furloughed “less than 25 percent” of its staff, according to reports. Oakland and Tampa Bay have started to slowly return some of those employees.

The New York Mets and Los Angeles Angels, considered the secondary teams in major markets, also had significant reductions. The Mets reportedly let 25 employees go at the end of June. The Angels furloughed a significant chunk of their amateur scouting staff just 10 days ahead of June’s amateur draft as well as some business-side employees. Arizona reportedly laid off or furloughed approximately 25 % of their staff at the end of May.

It is the second major blow club employees have suffered in July. Early in the month, a COVID-19 outbreak of fewer than 10 employees forced the team to limit employees in the office to essential staff only. The Rangers tested the rest of the full-time staff. A club spokesman did not provide details on any further positive tests.

In April, a group of Rangers senior executives agreed to voluntary 20% pay cuts in an effort to stave off furloughs or further cuts. But in May, the team announced pay cuts of between 10 and 20% for about half the staff. That had been the last action taken until Tuesday’s news.

Find more Rangers stories from The Dallas Morning News here.

Evan Grant, Rangers beat writer/insider. Evan has covered the Rangers since 1997. He has twice been named one of the top 10 beat writers in the country by the AP Sports Editors. His passions outside of covering baseball are his wife, Gina, his two step kids, two crazy dogs & barbecue. Let's not discuss the cat. Evan graduated from Georgia State University, but oddly is a Georgia fan.

egrant@dallasnews.com @Evan_P_Grant
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