Major League Baseball, like many sports leagues around the world, has been shut down indefinitely because of the growing threat that is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Spring training has been suspended and Opening Day has been pushed back to at least mid-May, and that remains subject to change as the situation develops.
. Players will continue receiving $400 weekly allowances, equivalent to their spring training per diem, as well as medical benefits during the shutdown. It's not much, but it is better than nothing, especially since players are under contract and can not file for unemployment.
Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is going above and beyond to help the organization's minor leaguers during the shutdown. According to the South Korean sports site Naver Sports, Choo is giving all 190 minor leaguers in the organization $1,000 each during the shutdown. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News confirmed the story.
Here is a text message exchange between Choo and minor-league infielder Eli White (via Grant):
"Hey, Choo, this is Eli," said one text. "Thanks for helping me out with the per diem checks. It is going to help my wife and I out a lot."
Choo's response: "Eli don't worry about money. Just keep playing baseball. Let me know if you need something more."
Throughout his career Choo has spoken with deep respect for veteran players who helped him early in his career, and he has a reputation for mentoring young players. Last year he took Willie Calhoun under his wing after Calhoun was demoted to the minors. Now he's dipping into his own pocket to help minor leaguers during the shutdown.
"I will never forget the minor leagues," Choo told Grant. "In 2005, I'd skip meals on the road, save the meal money, and use it to buy diapers for my son."
Choo, 37, is entering the final season of the seven-year, $130 million contract he signed with Texas during the 2013-14 offseason. He authored a .265/.371/.455 batting line with 24 home runs last season and is a career .275/.377/.448 hitter with 213 home runs in parts of 15 MLB seasons. Choo has been a sneaky-great hitter for a long time now.
At 34.5 WAR, Choo is easily the best Korean-born player in MLB history. Pitchers Chan-Ho Park (18.1 WAR), Hyun-Jin Ryu (13.5 WAR), and Byung-Hyun Kim (11.1 WAR) are the only other Korean-born players to amass double-digit wins above replacement in the big leagues.