MLB announces extended support plan for minor-league players during coronavirus shutdown

Major League Baseball, like many sports leagues around the world, has been shut down indefinitely because of the growing threat that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring training has been suspended and Opening Day has been pushed back to at least mid May, and that remains subject to change as the situation develops.  

On Tuesday, MLB announced it is extending league-wide support for minor-league players through May 31 (or the beginning of the minor-league season). Players will continue receiving $400 weekly allowances and medical benefits, and individual clubs may provide additional benefits (housing, food, etc.) beyond that.

The $400 weekly allowance is equal to a minor leaguer’s spring training per diem. Soon after spring training was shut down on March 12, MLB announced it would continue paying minor leaguers their spring allowances until April 9, which was scheduled to be minor league Opening Day. That has now been extended.

Earlier this year MLB announced it will raise minor-league minimum salaries beginning in 2021. In 2020, the $400 weekly allowance represents a raise for most minor leaguers. Here is the minimum salary plan set to begin next year:

  • Rookie ball and short season: $290 weekly raised to $400 weekly
  • Single-A: $290 weekly raised to $500 weekly
  • Double-A: $350 weekly raised to $600 weekly
  • Triple-A: $502 weekly raised to $700 weekly

Because minor leaguers are still under contract with their team, they can not file for unemployment during the shutdown, and finding a temporary job is difficult. Not only is the job market in bad shape, but players would have to be able to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice when baseball resumes. Hard to find work under those conditions. Plus players need time to stay sharp and in shape.

Spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida have been shut down and minor leaguers have been encouraged to go home during the shutdown, if possible. The Yankees had two minor leaguers test positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, at which point they quarantined all their minor leaguers for two weeks. Players were provided three meals a day and a $525 weekly allowance.

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