One of the big concerns among Minor League Baseball players was how they would be taken care of moving forward without baseball games happening. The Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball had been discussing many things over the last two weeks as they tried to agree on a large swath of situations and how to handle them. In that time, more than a few solutions had been announced. Minor League pay, however, was not one of them. Both sides did continue to acknowledge that it was something they were working on beyond their first agreement that players would be paid at least $400 per week through spring training (teams can pay more if they choose).
Today it was announced that the $400 per week to minor leaguers would continue through May 31st. First reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, it also includes medical benefits. Here’s the full statement from Major League Baseball:
Major League Baseball announced today that it has extended the league-wide initiative of financial support for Minor League players through May 31st or until the beginning of the minor league season — whichever occurs first. MLB is taking this additional step to continue assistance for Minor League players and their families during the unexpected postponement to the start of the season. All players will continue to receive medical benefits and may continue to use any balance they have in the College Scholarship Plan or Continuing Education Program. This follows MLB’s March 19th announcement that provided interim support to Minor League players through April 8th, which covered the period until the originally scheduled start of the minor league season.
The exceptions to this plan are players who are signed to Major League contracts; players who are already receiving housing, food or other services from Clubs; and players on the Restricted, Voluntary Retired, Disqualified or Ineligible Lists. In addition, each Club will make its own arrangements to provide support to players on Dominican Summer League rosters during the same period.
As a procedural matter, Major League Baseball has informed Minor League Baseball that Major League Clubs are unable to supply their Minor League affiliates with players as a result of the national health emergency. All MLB Clubs are now in the process of informing Minor League players of the suspension of their Uniform Player Contracts. Today’s announcement provides funds for impacted eligible players during the delay.
For the last two weeks, MLB has been engaged in a variety of discussions with stakeholders to identify ways to blunt the wide-ranging impact of the national emergency resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic. MLB has announced a joint $1 million MLB-MLBPA fund to speed food assistance to those impacted by the crisis and a 30-Club, $30 million effort to support ballpark workers. MLB partnered with Fanatics to manufacture masks and hospital gowns at the factory and from materials usually used to make MLB jerseys. The much-needed supplies will first be sent to support healthcare workers and emergency personnel in Pennsylvania, where the factory is located, with the intention of expanding. Individual Clubs will continue to announce more details surrounding support for their local communities, and players are coming together to urge fans to take this crisis seriously.
We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts, and urge all baseball fans to follow suit. MLB extends its best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus.
This extension isn’t perfect. If you read the whole thing, you likely noticed the part about who isn’t eligible to receive this $400 per week and while some of those make sense, one group kind of doesn’t. It’s the players who are basically stuck at the spring training facilities who were unable to travel home for one reason or another. The teams are paying for their lodging and food in these scenarios, which is good to see. But they aren’t necessarily getting anything beyond that (teams are allowed to help out more here – just like they are allowed to pay more than $400 per week if they want to). It’s also not clear as to how the players in the Dominican Republic academies (who have mostly been sent home) will be taken care of from a monetary standpoint – as that’s seemingly left up to each team.
Overall, this is going to help out a lot of the guys. It’s a big pay cut for the guys who were expecting to be in Double-A and Triple-A this year. For the players who were going to be in A-ball, or even those back in extended spring training, this is likely to match what they would have made (or exceed it) if the season were going on. For guys who had reached free agency – some of whom were going to be paid better than players with no Major League experience who are on the 40-man roster – well, this is going to be a massive pay cut for them.