Last week, Major League Baseball suspended operations due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Opening Day, scheduled for March 26, will instead have to happen later in the year, depending on the effectiveness of the imposed containment strategies. While the delay impacted everyone in the baseball industry, minor-league players were in a particularly poor spot.
As we noted earlier this week, they had not been paid for since last August. Additionally, they were unable to apply for unemployment benefits, and could not take long-term jobs, given the uncertainty about their availability.
MLB acted on Thursday to provide some relief to its minor-league players. Here's what the league is doing, per to a press release:
Since last week, Major League Baseball has been engaged in a variety of discussions with stakeholders to identify ways to blunt the wide-ranging impact of the national emergency resulting from the global coronavirus pandemic. As those conversations continue, MLB is announcing today a league-wide initiative that will create a level of uniform compensation for Minor League players, covering the period between now and the originally scheduled start of the minor league season. MLB is taking this initial step today because of the effects of the season's postponement on Minor League players and their families. MLB intends to continue working with all 30 Clubs to identify additional ways to support those players as a result of the delayed 2020 season.
Each player who is under a Minor League Uniform Player Contract will receive a lump sum equal to the allowances that would have been paid through April 8th. The exceptions to this plan are non-40-man-roster players who are already receiving Major League allowances; players who are currently receiving housing, food or other services from Clubs; and players who were not participating in, or expected to participate in, Minor League Spring Training. MLB remains in communication with Clubs on the development of an industry-wide plan for Minor League player compensation from April 9th through the beginning of the coming season.
MLB takes the community impact of this crisis seriously. We will continue to monitor ongoing events and undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts to protect fans, players and ballpark workers, and we urge all baseball fans to follow suit. MLB extends its best wishes to all the individuals and communities who have been impacted by the coronavirus.
It's unclear how MLB intends to help out minor-league players after April 8. There's no way of knowing yet whether MLB and MiLB will be able to begin their season in May, or if a later launch, perhaps even into July, will be required.
MLB also this week, and each team affected by the shutdown.