MLB extends support to minor-league players

The commissioner’s office said Tuesday that minor-leaguers will receive allowances and health benefits through the earlier of May 31 or Opening Day.

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Toronto Blue Jays minor league baseball player Steward Berroa, center, prepares to fly home along with his teammates from the Dominican Republic at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida on March 15.

Toronto Blue Jays minor league baseball player Steward Berroa, center, prepares to fly home along with his teammates from the Dominican Republic at the Tampa International Airport in Tampa, Florida on March 15.

Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times via AP

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is extending its financial support to minor-league players through May while suspending their contracts because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

MLB announced March 19 that it was giving minor-leaguers $400 weekly allowances through April 8, the day before the minor-league season was scheduled to start. The commissioner’s office said Tuesday that minor-leaguers will continue to receive those allowances and health benefits through May 31 or the minor-league Opening Day, whichever comes first.

Minor-league contracts have a provision allowing them to be suspended “during any national emergency.” MLB said Tuesday it had told the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor-league governing body, that it was unable to supply players to minor-league affiliates because of the emergency.

Major- and minor-league seasons are on hold due to the new coronavirus. Weekly minimum salaries on full-season minor-league teams range from $290 at Class A to $502 at Triple-A over the five-month season, meaning many players are making more during this hiatus than they do in-season.

The allowances are meant to help players cover costs for housing, food and training. Most players were instructed to leave their spring-training complexes just over two weeks ago, sending them scrambling to make ends meet because they hadn’t received a paycheck from teams since the end of the 2019 season. Exceptions were made for players from Venezuela and other high-risk areas, many of whom remained at the spring camps.

MLB reached an agreement last week with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which covers players in the minors who have big-league contracts. The teams are providing $170 million in advance salaries to that group.

MLB’s minor-league initiative also does not cover players on the restricted, voluntary retired, disqualified or ineligible lists; and those already receiving housing or food from teams. In addition, each team will make arrangements for players on Dominican Summer League rosters.

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