Major League Baseball said it will give minor league prospects payments equal to financial allowances that would have been paid through April 8, marking the latest league effort to help those financially impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the league’s prior move to help create a $30m fund for ballpark employees, the new initiative will see minor league players receive lump-sum payments worth what they would have received up to when the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was set to begin.
MLB’s step also standardizes across the league what had been previously occurring on a team level among several individual franchises as the public health crisis continues.
The league branded this as an “initial step” and continues to talk with the 30 clubs on a broader plan that will also compensate minor league players from April 9 up until when games and normal payrolls resume.
“MLB takes the community impact of this crisis seriously,” the league said. “We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts to protect fans, players, and ballpark workers.”
There are some exceptions to the initial minor league payment plan, and players that will be exempted include those already receiving housing, food, or other services from MLB teams.
The minor league payments represent a critical step for some of the lowest paid professional athletes in US sports. Even as 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.
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.
As for major league players, MLB and the MLB Players Association remain in active discussion on a variety of logistical concerns amid the ongoing virus outbreak, including payment and service time accrual, and revenue-sharing provisions.
MLB and MiLB, meanwhile, continue to be locked in fractious negotiations regarding a new Professional Baseball Agreement.