Professional sports’ coronavirus-forced shutdown could have an especially negative effect on minor league baseball players. Even in the best of times, their salaries pale in comparison to players in the majors. And now that play’s suspended for an indeterminate amount of time, minor leaguers can’t even receive unemployment benefits because they’re under contract with major league teams, attorney Garrett Broshuis points out on Twitter. Fortunately, though, multiple teams in the majors seem to be stepping up on behalf of players from lower leagues.
The Rangers are among the organizations that have mentioned the idea of paying minor leaguers to MLB during the game’s absence, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. It’s unclear which actions MLB will take in response, but this is no doubt a dire situation for minor leaguers, who haven’t collected salaries since last August. Athletics minor league pitcher Peter Bayer tweeted Thursday that he has begun driving for the food delivery service DoorDash in order to help make up for the wages he stands to lose with the sport on hiatus. He’s surely not the only minor leaguer scrambling to earn a living right now.
Even before the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the world, low minor league pay was a hot-button issue across baseball. As of 2018, the average minor league salary ranged from roughly $6K in Single-A ball to around $15K at the Triple-A level, Daniel Gallen of PennLive.com noted last June. Those salaries are close to the 2019 poverty line of $12,490, which doesn’t reflect well on pro baseball teams. As of last April, Forbes valued the average MLB franchise at $1.78 billion.