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When Major League Baseball issued its March 15 memo recommending teams send non 40-man roster players home due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, it created a number of questions regarding the status of minor league players.
Minor leaguers are not paid during spring training. They receive only whatever housing, food and allowances, stipends and/or per diems their teams issue from the time they report to camp through the start of the minor league regular season, when they begin to draw their salaries.
With minor league players sent home, with limited exceptions, they will no longer receive the food and housing provided at their spring training complexes. Whether they are still receiving their stipends, allowances or per diems, and the dollar amount of those, varies from team to team.
The Rays, according to BA correspondent Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, give their minor leaguers $400 a week if they live outside the team hotel or $115 a week if they live at the team hotel as a per diem, plus two meals a day at the field. With all minor league players sent home, the Rays are giving them $400 a week.
The D-backs, according to BA correspondent Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, give their minor leaguers a $300 a week per diem during camp and have housing available at a team hotel. They are giving players one-time deposits of up to $1,500 during the hiatus in addition to their $300 weekly per diems.
The Padres, according to BA correspondent Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune, provide minor leaguers a per diem of about $160 a week, two meals a day at the complex and housing. The Padres are continuing to pay minor leaguers their per diems through April 8, the originally scheduled day before minor league Opening Day.
The Cardinals, according to the family of one minor leaguer, gave their minor leaguers a $37 per week stipend, three meals per day and a room at a local hotel while in camp. With minor leaguers sent home, the Cardinals notified them on March 18 they would be receiving $25 per day ($175 per week) in lieu of the usual arrangement, according to the family. The Cardinals would neither confirm nor deny the amounts.
The stipends, allowances and per diems for minor leaguers only extend through spring training. Minor leaguers begin to receive their salaries once the regular season begins. With the minor league season now postponed indefinitely, minor leaguers in every organization are unsure when they will be paid or how much beginning April 9, the originally scheduled minor league Opening Day.
Major League Baseball officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told BA the league plans to issue league-wide guidelines on minor league pay for the regular season after it finishes negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association on issues pertaining to 40-man roster players.
With three weeks remaining before the originally scheduled minor league Opening Day, MLB has time to formulate a plan for paying minor leaguers as long as the regular season is postponed.
In the interim, individual clubs are making the decision if—or how—to compensate their minor leaguers until then. Baseball America contacted all 30 teams on March 16 and asked if they were currently paying their minor leaguers at all.
Twelve teams—the Rays, Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Marlins, Padres, Cardinals, Tigers, Yankees, Indians, D-backs and Giants—confirmed they are continuing to pay their minor leaguers their spring training stipends, allowances and/or per diems even as camps have shut down.
The Cubs, Angels and Royals said they were working to determine a plan. The Rangers and White Sox referred comment to MLB. The Braves declined to comment.
The remaining 12 teams did not respond. A minor league player with the Nationals informed BA they were not receiving any stipend or per diem at this time.
The minimum weekly salary for minor leaguers during the 2020 regular season was scheduled to be $290 at the Rookie, short-season and Class A levels, $350 at Double-A and $502 at Triple-A. Some teams, such as the Blue Jays and Giants, previously announced they would pay their minor leaguers higher salaries.
Whether minor leaguers will receive those amounts, or different amounts, while the regular season is delayed is pending until MLB issues its league-wide guidelines, which are expected in the coming weeks.
Until then, minor leaguers are largely living on the spring training stipends, allowances and/or per diems they are receiving from their teams—if they are receiving them at all.