Angels criticized for failure to pay some minor leaguers
In the final weeks of an already disappointing season, the Angels were charged Wednesday with failing to fulfill their financial promises to their minor leaguers.
“Several players have told us they didn’t see a dime from the Angels last month,” read a tweet from the Advocates for Minor Leaguers. “No other MLB team has shown such apathy toward providing for players’ basic needs.”
Angels spokesman Adam Chodzko said the team had committed to making $400 weekly payments to minor leaguers through the scheduled end of the minor league season, Sept. 7. However, he said, if the Angels had paid out a player’s contract in full, the weekly payments stopped.
Under the Angels’ system, over the 22-week minor league season that was supposed to start in early April, a player would have maxed out at $8,800. The minimum triple-A salary is about $11,000. Many veterans make more than that.
Deep into his first season as Angels manager, Joe Maddon fully grasps the long rebuilding road ahead for the franchise.
In March, after the season was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that each team would provide a weekly $400 stipend to minor leaguers through May 31. The minor league seasons eventually were canceled but almost all teams agreed to extend the stipend through Sept. 7.
Baseball America had reported the Angels were one of those teams. However, the Angels said Wednesday they had agreed to pay those stipends only until the total matched the salary a player was scheduled to earn this season.
That means the Angels were still paying out some players in August, but not all.
Angels manager Joe Maddon hopes two days off will relieve some of the pressure on David Fletcher’s ankle, which the utility man rolled Sunday against the Mariners.
Garrett Broshius, the co-founder of Advocates for Minor Leaguers and an attorney representing a group of minor leaguers suing MLB over alleged violations of minimum-wage laws, said the Angels’ method of operation was rare.
“We’ve heard from a lot of players around the league, and we aren’t aware of any other team taking this callous approach,” said Broshius, himself a former minor leaguer. “In the grand scheme of things, this saved the Angels very little. But it meant a lot to many minor leaguers.”
The Angels say they made their players aware of the pay structure. But players who have been in touch with Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a nonprofit launched in March, contended they didn’t receive notice. They often learned whether the stipends would continue each month through online reports.
After four days stuck in COVID-19 protocols, middle infielder Franklin Barreto was activated from the injured list and allowed to work out at Angel Stadium for the first time Wednesday.
The 24-year-old came to the Angels in Friday’s trade of Tommy La Stella to the Oakland Athletics. But he couldn’t join the team until the Angels were sure he wasn’t infected with the coronavirus after the A’s learned of a positive test in their traveling party late last week.
Barreto admitted during a pregame videoconference he was a little rusty because of the brief layoff. That didn’t stop the Angels from summoning him once the bullpen blew a tie with two outs in the eighth inning on the way to an 11-4 loss to the San Diego Padres. Barreto debuted as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, struck out with two men on base and remained in the game to play third.
During 51/2 seasons in Oakland’s system, Barreto, once a top prospect who received a $1.45-million signing bonus from the Toronto Blue Jays, rarely received playing time at the major league level. He has made just 219 plate appearances over 95 games since 2017.
“You have highs and lows in this game but you know that if you’re playing every day you have the opportunity to do well,” Barreto said. “I consider myself a player that can help the team if I’m playing on a daily basis.”
He will have that opportunity with the Angels. During his first month on the team, Barreto, who is out of minor league options but under team control through 2024, will be moved around the infield. He’ll even try the outfield, where he has logged only 96 innings since beginning his professional career at 17.
Manager Joe Maddon is interested in observing Barreto for the time being. He doesn’t want to diagnose what issues he might have at the plate, where Barreto batted .180 with 18 extra-base hits for the A’s.
“You just don’t jump right in there,” Maddon said. “I’m big believer in that. … Give him a chance to be who he is.”
Three takeaways on the Angels
- Right-hander Julio Teheran finally pitched long enough to qualify for a victory, but Jurickson Profar’s sacrifice fly off reliever José Quijada in the sixth left the Angels starter with a no-decision. Teheran gave up three hits, three walks and two earned runs over five innings to a Padres team that entered the game having batted a National League-best .357 and scored an MLB-best 45 runs during the previous seven days. Teheran, who threw only 68 pitches, would have emerged for the sixth inning if not for some tightness in his left quadriceps. He expects to take his next turn in the rotation.
- Jo Adell keeps distancing himself from his rough defensive start. With two outs in the fifth, the rookie rushed toward the right-field corner in pursuit of a hard line drive off the bat of MVP contender Fernando Tatis Jr. Adell perfectly timed a dive and gloved the ball near the wall for the third out, preventing an extra-bases hit.
- Jason Castro, whom the Angels traded to the Padres on Sunday, delivered the Padres’ go-ahead run, lining a two-run double to right-center for a 5-3 lead in the eighth. The two-out hit came against Ty Buttrey, the last pitcher Castro caught before being dealt. The Padres had piled on six more runs by inning’s end.
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this story.
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