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At least 16 MLB teams pledge more stipends to minor leaguers

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NEW YORK (AP) At least 16 major league franchises have informed minor leaguers they will continue to provide allowances after the May 31 expiration of Major League Baseball’s policy guarantying those players $400 per week.

The Houston Astros, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners are promising payments through August, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks have pledged to do so through at least June. The White Sox are even providing those stipends to 25 minor league players recently released.

The Philadelphia Phillies also plan to continue allowances through June, but likely at a reduction from the $400 per week rate. The amount is to be determined, the team said.

Oakland said Tuesday it will suspend pay for all minor leaguers at the end of the month. The Athletics are the only team to announce an end to the allowances.

MLB suspended spring training and postponed the start of the minor league season in March due to the novel coronavirus, leaving low-paid minor league players in lurch. The league

March 19 that provided most non-40-man roster players signed to minor league deals with stipends through April 8, and it later extended the policy through May 31.

The allowances were a pay raise for many players, with minimum salaries ranging from $290 per week at Class A to $502 per week at Triple-A over the five-month season.

MLB and the players’ association are

to start the major league season later in the summer, but it seems likely there will not be a minor league season. Some teams have reportedly begun to release players who aren’t top prospects and won’t figure into their 2020 MLB rosters. The White Sox are the only club to say it will extend allowances to players recently released.

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Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”