The nonprofit organization More Than Baseball announced on Thursday that Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and his wife Jenny donated $250,000 to provide assistance to Cardinals minor leaguer during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The start of the regular season for both Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball were delayed in accordance with CDC guidelines.
It is not clear yet when the regular season will begin. Minor league players are not paid during spring training and typically make, as More Than Baseball notes, between $1,170 and $1,650 per month for five months of the minor league season. Thanks to MTB and other advocates, players will be paid $400 per week through April 9, which would have been the start of the minor league season. The league is still in the process of addressing what happens beyond April 9. Cardinals minor leaguers, at least, will have a safety net provided by Wainwright.
Wainwright’s gesture is, of course, incredible. It shouldn’t have been necessary, however, as minor leaguers should have already been paid a living wage and their salaries guaranteed during this crisis. Wainwright has earned more than $140 million over his career, but MLB took in over $10 billion in revenues last year alone. It is the billionaire owners across the sport, not the millionaires that constitute part of the labor force, that should be reaching out of pocket to take care of minor leaguers.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.