Members of the Washington Nationals will pay players from the team’s Minor League Baseball system after they lost wages due to budget cuts tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle announced the move Sunday on Twitter. Sources told The Washington Post and The Athletic the Nationals plan to reduce minor league players’ weekly stipends from $400 to $300 in June.
Doolittle said Nationals players had a Zoom video conference call Sunday and decided to make up for the players’ lost wages.
“All of us were minor leaguers at one point in our careers and we know how important the weekly stipends are for them and their families during uncertain times,” he tweeted.
Hundreds of minor league players have been released over the past week as the Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball seasons remain suspended due to the pandemic. MLB teams agreed to pay MiLB players $400 per week in April and May, which was a large pay cut for many.
The Oakland Athletics told their minor league players those payments would stop in June and other teams have pledged to pay their players through August. MiLB team owners have also begun to fire front-office and game-day workers in recent weeks.
The player cuts and layoffs signal a potential cancellation for the 2020 MiLB season.
“Minor leaguers are an essential part of our organization and they are bearing the heaviest burden of this situation as their season is likely to be canceled,” Doolittle added. “We recognize that and want to stand with them and show our support.”
A $400 weekly stipend for 250 players costs $100,000 per week per team. MLB franchises have an average value of $1.85 billion, according to Forbes. The Nationals had an opening-day payroll of $185 million at the start of the 2019 season, which ended with Washington winning the World Series.
Several other individual MLB players have also offered to pay minor league players. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price has pledged $1,000 to every minor leaguer who isn’t on the 40-man roster in the Dodgers’ farm system through June. Texas outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said he will give $1,000 to every minor league player in the Rangers’ system.
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