Professional baseball players are easy to envy. “They’re getting paid to play a children’s game!” But in reality, until they arrive in the majors, the vast majority of them maintain modest lifestyles, either dependent on friends and family or forced to find side hustles to supplement their income. Salaries for affiliated non-roster players have barely changed in decades, plus the checks are limited to the five-month span of the Minor League Baseball season. It’s borderline exploitative. As previously discussed on Fish Stripes, the system is overdue for an overhaul.
That being said, in the midst of a pandemic, something is better than nothing. All MLB organizations agreed to pay their minor leaguers through May 31 at a rate of $400 per week. With the expiration date fast approaching, everybody has the flexibility to determine their own policies moving forward.
The Marlins are among the clubs who will continue compensating these players, Kyle Glaser of Baseball America first reported Wednesday morning. Their commitment through the month of August covers all but the final week of the original 2020 MiLB regular season schedule.
Quite a contrast with the Athletics, another organization notorious for their financial difficulties, who informed farmhands on Tuesday that they will receive nothing from June onward (aside from health benefits).
Former Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler applauded the investment that Miami is making. “You don’t know how many future stars might have had to walk away from the game forever,” he tweeted, implying that the urgency to earn a decent living would tempt some players to end their baseball careers prematurely if they had been denied pay.
It’s hard to imagine any official minor league games being held this summer. However, players are still advised to train and remain in contact with coaches. Even if done remotely, these baseball activities require time and resources. It would be irrational to expect them to make the same developmental progress without any financial assistance.
The 2020 MLB Draft is less than two weeks away, to be followed by a novel undrafted free agent signing period. With the draft being shortened from 40 rounds to five, thousands of legitimately talented aspiring pros will have the freedom to search for their next employer. They will be eligible for maximum signing bonuses of $20,000.
By demonstrating their support for minor leaguers (even those with slim odds of reaching The Show), the Marlins have given themselves an edge in recruiting.