The folks in and around baseball most adversely affected by the coronavirus shutdown are stadium workers and minor league players. Major League Baseball this week has taken steps to compensate both groups for time lost.
Earlier this week, all 30 MLB teams pledged at least $1 million to help pay stadium workers for lost games. On Thursday, MLB pledged to pay minor league players up to what would have been the start of the minor league season (April 9), and possibly after.
“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,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “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.”
The amount of the stipend for the remainder of spring training is expected to be $400 per week, per Jake Seiner of the Associated Press. Contrast that for players in major league camp (everyone on a 40-man roster as of March 13, plus non-roster invitees with at least one day of major league service time in 2019), who get $1,100 per week through April 8 per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
But the key for minor leaguers is how they are compensated for what would have been in-season.
The Major League Baseball statement included, “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 fleeting nature of minor league compensation has made the shutdown especially tough for the players. MLB successfully lobbied congress in 2018 for the “Save Our National Pastime Act,” which made minor leaguers ineligible for overtime or offseason pay.
Minimum salaries this year in the minors range from $290 per week in Class-A to $502 weekly in Triple-A. In a normal season that’s only five months of pay for minor leaguers. This year, the season will be even shorter.
Any missed paychecks can be brutal, especially for players expected to keep training for the upcoming season. Many minor league players take jobs to make ends meet during their baseball downtime, which takes away from the time they could be training.
Getting this spring training stipend from MLB is a good start, but players getting paid their paltry minor league salaries starting April 9 is the needed next step.