When Major League Baseball officially shut down due to the spread of COVID-19, the league and Players’ Association naturally began discussions as to how the affected players would be taken care of. Of course, that meant union members already in the majors took precedence over the more vulnerable subset of workers who do not have a seat at the table — the minor league ballplayers who, by and large, earn poverty-level wages during the regular season.
After figuring out how 40-man roster members and select non-roster invitees would be compensated, the league and MLBPA finally turned their attention to the minor leaguers, and yesterday MLB announced their short-term plan to pay those players. The original communication stated that minor league players would receive a lump-sum equal to the stipend that they would normally receive during Spring Training, which amounts to a daily $25 per diem through April 8th. But instead of what would have been a roughly $500 payment to each prospect, the league later amended their plan in a more generous fashion:
According to a memo obtained by Baseball America, each club will provide an allowance of $400 a week ($57.14 per day) to eligible minor leaguers through that date. Per a league official, individual clubs may go above that amount if they choose. The directive goes into effect March 20.
All those who are under the Uniform Players Contract qualify, with the following exceptions — non 40-man roster players who are already covered under the MLB compensation plan, players who are currently receiving housing, food, or other services from their club, and players who were not participating in or expected to participate in Minor League Spring Training.
The compensation plan goes into affect today and will run through April 8th; the minor league regular season had been scheduled to begin April 9th. The league and MLBPA have said they will continue discussions as to how minor league players will be compensated after that, but it sounds like the topic will turn back to big leaguers for the time being. Specifically, MLB and the Players’ Association are still far apart when it comes to how service time will be calculated and accounted for while play is suspended, including if the whole 2020 season is missed.