Pirates cut employee retirement benefits during COVID-19 shutdown

The Pirates have suspended contributions to employees’ 401(k) plans as a way to cut costs during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Pittsburgh is the first MLB team to cut benefits, though some clubs, such as the Mets, have already told employees they will cut their salaries.

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Commissioner Rob Manfred gave teams the option to cut team employee pay and benefits by suspending employee contracts, starting May 1.

In a Tuesday afternoon conference call, GM Ben Cherington spoke candidly about the ongoing and difficult situation.

“We did identify the retirement contributions at least temporarily as an opportunity ... an area we might find some savings without too much impact on people, at least their everyday lives,” he said.

The Pirates’ executive leadership team have taken voluntary salary reductions to make sure employees could be paid while the club has zero income during the shutdown.

Cherington said the Pirates “need to find savings.”

“It’s sort of turned our business upside down. Revenues aren’t coming in and cash is still going out,” said Cherington.

He is hopeful that baseball will return, in some form, but said health and safety has to dictate the decision.