MiLB Players to Receive $400 Weekly Payments Through at Least May 31

Because minor league players only receive their paltry salaries during the regular season, many feared baseball’s shutdown would keep them without paychecks for weeks or months to come. But in a welcome departure from a trend toward scaling back the minors to save money, MLB has made recent moves to ensure these players do receive some form of payment.

The league last week decided to pay out a lump sum of the spring allowances minor leaguers would have earned, and now comes a report that those players will receive weekly paychecks moving forward. As first mentioned by JJ Cooper of Baseball America, and subsequently confirmed by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, all minor league players will receive $400 per week from their parent clubs through at least May 31.

Passan also notes that minor leaguers will receive medical benefits, which is huge in light of the current pandemic. Even under normal circumstances, that’s a big expense that would eat up a big chunk of salary.

The flat rate means that players at the Triple-A level will actually be taking a pay cut, but all other players will receive raises of anywhere from $50-110 per week. That’s based on 2020 rates of $290/week for rookie, short-season, and single-A; $350/week for Double-A; and $502/week for Triple-A. MLB agreed to increase wages to a minimum of $400/week for the 2021 season, scaling up to $700/week, but that obviously doesn’t apply here.

The Cubs, however, had already planned to increase the salaries of their minor leaguers by around 50% this season. The raises were set to be between $112-295/week, with the average falling around $200/week. I’m not sure whether all teams have to abide by this new arrangement, but the Cubs doing so would mean a reduction in pay for all of their players compared to what they would have earned under normal circumstances.

Also of note in this new decision is the timing, which seems to indicate an admission that the regular season won’t be started until June 1 at the earliest. While MLB officials have yet to publicly announce much in the way of a target date for resumption, even June is starting to feel incredibly optimistic.

Update: Per the language in MLB’s announcement of the deal, the league has suspended all Uniform Player Contracts as the result of the national health emergency. That allows teams to pay the players, since the contracts held that they’d only be paid during the regular season, but also means this probably is a blanket deal that doesn’t allow the Cubs or other teams to pay more than $400/week. I could be wrong there, of course.

Another procedural wrinkle is that MLB can’t supply MiLB with players during this time, which is irrelevant because of the shutdown.

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