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MLBPA trust pledges $1 million to help minor leaguers

Great gesture, which only highlights how underpaid minor leaguers are

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All-Star Players House 2019 Presented by MLBPA - Day 3 Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images for MLBPA

The Major League Baseball Players Trust on Wednesday committed $1 million to help minor league players whose seasons have been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Major League Baseball Players are proud to support our fellow players in minor league baseball,” Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller said in a statement. “These players have found themselves hit hard as a result of the pandemic and are unable to play the game we all love. The game is also their livelihood and there is no doubt the financial impact has been challenging. We hope to help them navigate these difficult times.”

The Players Trust will partner with organizations providing assistance to minor leaguer players, saying in a statement, “A primary objective is serving players who have had their careers paused through no fault of their own and who now find themselves struggling.”

This is a meaningful gesture by the players, and is to be commended, just as Dodgers pitcher David Price should be lauded for paying every Dodgers minor leaguer $1,000 in June.

But it also highlights what an afterthought minor league players are in the MLB ecosystem. Most players not on 40-man rosters don’t earn a living wage, and Major League Baseball successfully lobbied in 2018 to get a law passed that made sure minor leaguers were ineligible for overtime pay and wouldn’t be paid for spring training.

In the March 26 agreement between the MLBPA and owners, the headlines revolved around pro-rated pay and service time for major leaguers, but that agreement also allowed for the league to shorten the MLB Draft in both 2020 (to an absurd five rounds) and 2021 (to as few as 20 rounds), and slot bonus values were frozen at 2019 levels, all to save money. Those amateur players, you see, aren’t yet in the players union, and that’s part of the problem.

Minor leaguers not on 40-man rosters also have no representation, pointed out by Mitch Horacek, a 28-year-old minor league pitcher in the Twins system.

The donation by the Players Trust is great, but it’s small compared to the increase in support minor leaguers need from the sport itself.