Major League Baseball has announced a plan that will see minor league players receive some form of financial help while the baseball world is in limbo due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the media release…
Each player who is under a Minor League Uniform Player Contract will receive a lump sum equal to the allowances that would have been paid through April 8th. The exceptions to this plan are non-40-man-roster players who are already receiving Major League allowances; players who are currently receiving housing, food or other services from Clubs; and players who were not participating in, or expected to participate in, Minor League Spring Training. MLB remains in communication with Clubs on the development of an industry-wide plan for Minor League player compensation from April 9th through the beginning of the coming season.
The announcement also called this plan an “initial step,” as “MLB intends to continue working with all 30 Clubs to identify additional ways to support those players as a result of the delayed 2020 season.” In essence, the league now has a couple more weeks to figure out a longer-term answer to the problem of paying minor league players, amidst the countless other issues that must be addressed during this prolonged shutdown.
While some teams (including the Rays, Mets, and Dodgers) have already made arrangements to provide their minor leaguers with a stipend, this news from the league formalizes such payments across all 30 farm systems, covering hundreds of minor league players. It will undoubtedly bring comfort to these athletes, the vast majority of whom didn’t receive any sort of notable signing bonus and have been earning less-than-minimum wage salaries during their playing careers.
The financial difficulties faced by minor league players was a subject of controversy well before the coronavirus outbreak, of course, though the timing of the league-wide shutdown right in the midst of Spring Training (when minor leaguers enjoyed the bonus of lodgings and meal money provided by their organizations) made the situation particularly troublesome. Some clubs like the Diamondbacks have continued to provide these amenities to minor leaguers during the shutdown — as the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro notes, D’Backs prospects thus won’t be subject to the league-wide policy.