Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Giants will offer their minor league players a pay raise as well as housing allowance. They will join the Blue Jays as the only teams to willingly go above and beyond to increase the pay and improve the living conditions for players in their system.
This also comes on the heels of Major League Baseball’s plan to marginally increase the pay for minor leaguers beginning in 2021. That plan will see the following raises:
- Rookie and short-season: Up to $400 from $290
- Single-A: Up to $500 from $290
- Double-A: Up to $600 from $350
- Triple-A: Up to $700 from $502
Those raises for the Giants will be as follows:
- Rookie and short-season: Up to $400, free housing
- Single-A: Up to $500, matched with host families
- Double-A: Up to $600 plus $500 per month housing allowance
- Triple-A: Up to $750 plus $500 per month housing allowance
As you can see, aside from Triple-A and the housing allowance, the pay raises are the same, but they are being enacted a year ahead of schedule. MLB’s plan does not include assistance for housing.
Kudos to the Giants for going above and beyond to take care of their minor leaguers. That being said, it still does not guarantee them a living wage and a high standard of living. Giants Triple-A players will still only earn about $15,000 per season. Minor leaguers don’t get paid for spring training or during the offseason, when they often take temporary jobs such as giving baseball instruction, rideshare driving, and bartending. The $500-per-month housing assistance helps. Rather than living with, say, eight people in a three-bedroom apartment, minor leaguers may now be able to get away with four or five.
While it is nice to see teams like the Blue Jays and Giants going out of their way, real, meaningful change will have to come from unionized pressure. Minor league players do not have a union and thus have not had the leverage to fight for labor protections. It might be high time the MLBPA bought a bigger umbrella.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Adam Schefter report that President Donald Trump told the sports commissioners on today’s conference call that he hopes that the leagues can re-open their doors to fans by August or September. The conference call, as we wrote earlier today, included a who’s-who of sports decision-makers.
Trump reportedly also said that the NFL can open on schedule in September, and urged the commissioners to work together to lobby for sports-related tax credits for consumers.
It’s hard to imagine MLB being able to get anything resembling a full season done if the game doesn’t resume until August or September. Even with the proposal to play a lot of double-headers in consideration, that would be asking an awful lot of the players, especially the pitchers. The season could theoretically stretch on into October, with the playoffs being held in warm-weather environments and domes in November. Yet that would depend on COVID-19 being contained in those locations, and would also impact the length of the offseason. Players would have less time to heal and rest up for next year’s spring training.
Trump’s benchmarks are also being set without any real sense for the scale of the pandemic given the abysmal lack of testing taking place to track the spread of the virus. The CDC and other health outlets within the government are operating on educated guesses and not hard data. We could have live sports back by August, or not until November. It’s simply too soon to tell.
The decision to re-open the leagues would not be a light one. Fans will be eager to get back in the stands after such a long layoff without sports. Live sporting events pull in tens of thousands of people, and just a handful of infected fans would be able to let the virus spread like wildfire. The health of the players is also paramount. Even a single player testing positive for COVID-19 could derail the nascent season.
One thing is clear, though. If baseball isn’t able to return until September, we may as well not have a season at all. There’s a very real chance we won’t be seeing any American baseball until 2021. Now might be a good time to figure out how to livestream the KBO, which is hoping to start its season sometime next month.
If you want to learn more about COVID-19, give the CDC’s site about the virus a read. Informing yourself is the most important step.