Washington Nationals make more staff cuts amid coronavirus pandemic

Shaun H. Ruff

“This decision was incredibly difficult for our organization,” the team said in a statement Tuesday. “Those impacted by the layoffs will receive a severance package including six months of health insurance coverage and other employee assistance. Recognizing that the staff remaining will have to take on additional responsibilities and work harder to keep the relationship with our fans going strong as we head into another uncertain year, we will end the partial furlough and restore business side employees to their full salaries for 2021.”

When the Nationals let go of a few business staffers this summer, it was characterized as performance-related, not triggered by the pandemic. The latest cuts, though, were a mix of pandemic downsizing and the usual year-to-year turnover. Budget tightening due to the pandemic was the dominant reason, according to a person with knowledge of the decisions. Cuts to the Nationals’ D.C.-based sales team were first reported by the Athletic.

Staff reductions have now affected the inner ring of the front office, the scouting department, minor league coaches, the research and development team, corporate partnerships, the inside sales staff and the organization’s corporate partnership wings, according to multiple people with knowledge of changes this fall. Tuesday’s layoffs trimmed the sales and service team, too, with more than half of it staying intact. According to Tuesday’s statement, there are also a number of business-side openings that will not be filled at this time.

On Jan. 1, the organization will restore full-time pay for all remaining business employees. That will not yet be the case for those on the baseball operations side, who have been told to expect continued pay reductions in 2021. When asked for the reason, a Nationals spokesperson said the decision to restore full-time pay for business employees is separate from baseball operations.

About eight percent of the Nationals’ business operation was cut Tuesday. It’s even tougher for those affected that it happened so close to the winter holidays. Minor league contraction and pandemic-related cuts have shrunk departments and opportunities across the sport and its many sectors. The Philadelphia Phillies let go of 80 employees in late November, according to reports. The Chicago Cubs have carried out similar cost-cutting measures.

Owners have privately and publicly bemoaned the financial impact of a shorter season without crowds in attendance. The toll is now evident in Washington and beyond.

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