The Seattle Mariners have confirmed they will pay their Minor League players through the end of August, but it comes at a price.
With the ongoing impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding professional sports teams, especially for the players. On Wednesday, the Seattle Mariners took a step towards removing at least some of this uncertainty.
As reported by Greg Johns of MLB.com, the Mariners confirmed Minor League players who are not on the 40-man roster will be paid through the end of August. More specifically, the players will still receive their $400 weekly stipend until what would have been the conclusion of a normal MILB season.
This is an important decision, as the agreement was set to expire on Sunday. While Major League baseball is planning to return at some stage in 2020, there is nothing at this point to suggest MILB will follow suit.
It should be noted though that if Minor League baseball does return this year, all normal salaries will be reinstated. Regardless, the Mariners’ announcement at least gives minor leaguers some degree of security moving forward.
The move does come at a cost however, as the Mariners decided to reduce the number of players they will pay. According to a report from Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times, more than 30 minor-league players have been released from their contracts.
These releases include pitchers Darin Gillies and Manny Bañuelos, who were both with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. Gillies was one of the Mariners’ longest-tenured minor leaguers, while Bañuelos was previously a top prospect in the New York Yankees’ system.
Certainly we share our sympathies with those who have been released, but while unfortunate, it was also an expected step in the current climate. MLB teams are already losing money from lost games and even when they do eventually return to action, there will be no fans in the stands.
As per Johns, the Mariners also made some moves in their front-office departments on Wednesday, with various employees taking pay cuts and a smaller number being furloughed or laid off. Furloughed staff will continue receiving benefits and likely return to work should games resume in 2020.