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Cubs have discussed raising minor-league pay, as Blue Jays did

Cubs president Theo Epstein (and esteemed media)

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs have had “internal discussions” about raising the pay of their minor-league players, team president Theo Epstein said after the Blue Jays announced 50 percent raises earlier this week for players in their farm system.

Whether it’s a move the Cubs or other teams will make individually remains unclear with negotiations ongoing between Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball — the governing body of minor-league baseball — for a new agreement.

The current agreement expires in September 2020.

“It’s something that people have been talking about a lot, how it would be better for all common good if we could find a way to get them a more livable wage,” Epstein said this week. “It’s obviously a complicated issue, but it seems like a lot of steps are in the right direction. Especially with what Toronto’s done, it seems like it’s becoming a leaguewide conversation, which is a good thing.”

The Cubs have improved their minor-league facilities and nutritional options throughout the organization since the Ricketts family purchased the team nearly 10 years ago.

Although minor-league affiliates are responsible for many overhead expenses associated with their clubs, the MLB clubs are responsible for player salaries in the minors.

Class A players typically are paid less than $1,200 a month, before clubhouse dues and taxes, and only for the months of the season. Many players make less than $2,200 a month even after reaching Class AAA.


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“We’ve had some internal discussions,” Epstein said of possibly raising the pay. “There’s a strong desire to do the right thing, but it’s a little more complicated putting that in practice. But everyone’s looking at it, whether it’s teamwide, or hopefully leaguewide, as something that can be addressed down the road.”

Descalso has opener in sight

Infielder Daniel Descalso, who hasn’t played since March 9 because of a sore left shoulder, took a day off from rehab and batting practice before starting a diet of minor-league at-bats, likely this weekend.

“I’ve swung the bat in the cage with some good intensity, and I haven’t had any issues,” he said. “So I don’t anticipate anything holding me back going forward.”

The left-handed hitter, who was expected to get most of the starts at second base at least until Addison Russell returns from a domestic-violence suspension, expects to avoid the injured list to start the season.

“If it were up to me, yeah, as long as everything keeps going well, I would assume,” he said. “But that might not be my call. But everything feels good right now.”

Waiting on Yu

The Cubs are waiting to see how presumptive No. 2 starter Yu Darvish (blister) fares in a bullpen session Friday before scheduling what would be his final start of spring training Sunday.

“I anticipate that he’s going to be able to, but we just want to make sure,” said manager Joe Maddon.

Darvish suffered a blister on the middle pad of his right ring finger Tuesday but said afterward he shouldn’t have any problem in making his next scheduled start.