MLB To Keep Paying Minor League Players Through May 31

Major League Baseball will continue to provide financial support to its minor league players through May 31, the league announced Tuesday morning.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported that an updated deal was on the way. The league had originally announced on March 19 that it had agreed to pay minor leaguers through April 8, but as the coronavirus situation in the United States and around the world has evolved, the start date for baseball remains in question. This new deal provides minor leaguers with the assurance that they won’t go without pay or health benefits for the next two months.

According to Passan, players will get $400 per week. This represents a raise for lower level minor league players but a pay decrease for some of those players in the higher levels of their team’s farm system.

The press release from MLB also indicates that the May 31 date is subject to change. Minor league players will be paid through May 31 or the start of the season, whichever comes first:

So in the event that the beginning of the season comes earlier than May 31, this deal will no longer apply.

At this point, there is no definitive idea as to when baseball might resume. All spring training operations were shut down weeks ago and the scheduled opening day at the major league level has come and gone. The minor league season was scheduled to begin on April 9.

On Sunday, President Donald Trump extended social distancing guidelines though April 30, it is likely that no baseball activities will resume until at least May.

When baseball does restart, teams will have to engage in a modified spring training program to prepare players to play their season. No format for what that might look like has been established, but ideas like having teams remain in their home cities and use their facilities for workouts have been floated. This would save teams time and money and would allow for a more seamless transition into the regular season when the time comes. The downside of keeping teams away from their sites in Arizona and Florida is that they would not have the ability to play spring training games in May or June.

Either way, minor league players at least now have the assurance that they will be paid for the next two months. The May 31 date does not necessarily indicate that the league expects to be back to full operations by June, but it at least shows that they don’t expect to be playing any regular season games at the major or minor league level much before then.

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