With professional, MLB-affiliated baseball on an indefinite hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league’s owners and Players’ Association have been working to make sure the uniformed personnel that fans would normally be watching out on the field are provided with some type of financial relief during this uncertain time. A plan pertaining to the pay of big leaguers was announced last week, which allowed the discussions to turn towards taking care of more the vulnerable minor league players. This morning, MLB announced their intention of continuing to pay minor leaguers through May 31st.
The league-wide initiative of financial support for Minor League players has been extended through May 31st. pic.twitter.com/oBKM5JCimC— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) March 31, 2020
According to Jeff Passan, minor league players will continue to receive the $400 per week stipend that was initally given to them through the end of Spring Training, a plan that would have originally ended on April 8th. Now eligible players will keep receiving that same sum each week through at least the end of May — or the beginning of the minor league season, whichever comes first — and will also receive their normal medical benefits during this period.
Let’s also note that this $400 a week does not apply to players still at the complex. Many Latin American players—mostly Venezuelans—will not be receiving these allowances because they were unable to return home.— More Than Baseball (@mtb_org) March 31, 2020
Not covered under this plan are players who would begin the year in the Dominican Summer League or others who receive food, housing, or other services from their parent club. Also not provided for are those players on the restricted, voluntary retired, disqualified, or ineligible lists.
For many players at the Double-A levels and below, the $400 per week stipend will actually be higher than the regular wage that they would have earned were the season occurring normally (minimum salary in Double-A is $350 per week and gets lower further down the minor league ladder). At the Triple-A level, however, the minimum salary is $502 per week, so most veteran minor league players will be taking a hit in their wallets.
It is important to remember that these minor league players are not eligible to file for unemployment due to their contracts with their parent clubs. The players that I spoke with last week expressed concern about making ends meet without the regular season starting as normal, so this news will no doubt come as a relief to those affected.