MLB agrees to pay minor league players a stipend through May

Bill Shaikin
LA Times
St. Louis Cardinals minor league players leave the team's spring training baseball facility in Jupiter, Fla., on March 13. <span class="copyright">(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)</span>
St. Louis Cardinals minor league players leave the team's spring training baseball facility in Jupiter, Fla., on March 13. (Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

By the end of May, it should be clear whether professional baseball will be played at all this season. Until then, minor leaguers will be paid.

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that a weekly $400 stipend for minor league players has been extended through May 31. In the unlikely event the season starts before then, salaries would replace stipends.

The money is crucial for minor leaguers, who are not paid during the offseason. The current minimum minor league salaries range from $290 per week in rookie leagues, where the season lasts three months, to $502 per week in triple-A, where the season lasts five months.

Major league team owners, not minor league team owners, pay minor league players. In its announcement, MLB said it had suspended minor league contracts as a result of the national emergency declared by President Trump.

The league could have similarly suspended major league contracts but instead reached an agreement with the players’ union that, in the event of a canceled season, would provide players with 4% of their 2020 salaries and would grant most players a full year of service time.

Minor league players are not represented by a union.

The suspension of minor league contracts was called a “procedural matter” by MLB, because bans on large gatherings preclude minor league games. But the agreement between major league owners and minor league owners expires this fall, and with it the requirement for MLB teams to supply players to affiliated minor league teams.

MLB has said it would like to eliminate 42 minor league teams, and with them some 1,000 player jobs. In its agreement with the players’ union, MLB secured the right to shorten the draft in 2020 and 2021, so major league teams might have fewer players to supply to minor league teams.

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