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Major League Baseball players union steps up to pay veteran minor leaguers

In the era that preceded sabermetrics, veteran bench players routinely were signed to guaranteed contracts. In these times of advanced analytics, many of those veterans are signed to minor league contracts, with an invitation to spring training and the hope of winning a spot on the roster. The minimum salary in the majors this year: $563,500.

For the most experienced veterans signing minor league contracts, the minimum salary is about $92,000. But now, with the season delayed indefinitely because of the coronavirus crisis, major league clubs have committed $400 per week to each minor leaguer, and even that amount is not assured beyond May 31.

So, on its own initiative, the Major League Baseball Players Assn. agreed Friday to supplement that weekly stipend for non-roster players with major league service. For a player on a minor league contract with one day of major league service, the union voted to provide a $5,000 payment.

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For players on a minor league contract with at least six years of major league service, such as Dodgers catcher Jose Lobaton, the union voted to provide a $50,000 payment. Other levels of service call for payments of $7,500, $15,000 and $25,000. If a longtime player believes he is financially set, he can decline the payment.

The league and the players’ union agreed last month that owners would provide a $170-million pool to major leaguers, worth about 4% of their collective 2020 salaries. However, some players would get less than 4% and some would get more.

Under the agreement, every player on a guaranteed major league contract would get $286,500. If a player on a 40-man roster has a contract that provides for a lower salary if he is sent to the minors, the player would receive $16,500, $30,000 or $60,000, depending on the specific terms of his contract.

If the season is canceled, the players can keep the money but cannot sue for the balance of their contracts.


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