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MLB extends financial support for minor-league prospects

Major League Baseball has extended its prior financial support of their clubs’ minor league prospects due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, continuing to provide assistance through May 31 or the start of their season, whichever comes first.

MLB will continue to provide $400 per week to prospects, maintaining allowance payments that started earlier this month, and were previously scheduled to run through April 8. There will be some exemptions from the initiative, particularly for prospects that are already receiving housing, food, or other services from MLB clubs.

The minor league players will also continue to receive medical benefits. The moves follow through on a prior pledge that the prior payments represented merely an “initial step,” and that minor leaguers would be receiving more financial assistance as the hiatus from play continues.

The money is particularly welcome as minor league baseball players are among the lowest-paid professional athletes in US sports. Even with recent pay increases are slated to go in place for the 2020 season, minor league baseball pay historically has been below basic living wage levels.

“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 said. 

MiLB player salaries are paid by the MLB parent clubs. And because the minor league players remain under contract, they cannot file unemployment claims while the games aren’t happening.

Many MiLB teams, however, remain in a highly delicate and tentative financial state amid the ongoing hiatus, given the majority of their annual revenues derive from gate revenue.

On the major league front, the MLB Players Association last week completed an agreement with MLB that will cover their payments and key matters such as service time accrual during the course of the public health crisis.

MiLB still also has the unresolved matter of its Professional Baseball Agreement negotiations with MLB. But MiLB president Pat O’Conner said recently that situation has been pushed to the side amid the pandemic and that “there’s time to get to the PBA.”