NEW YORK — Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer Logan O’Hoppe got the news from his agent and relayed it immediately to teammate Vito Friscia.
Friscia, a 40th-round draft pick, would be getting his spring training pay, after all.
“He thought I was kidding,” O’Hoppe said. “It’s awesome, I’m happy for him.”
Major League Baseball announced Thursday that minor league players shut out of spring training camps will receive allowances from teams through April 8, and a plan is underway to compensate those players during the postponed portion of the regular season.
Minor leaguers will receive their allowances—usually $100-400 per week—from teams in a lump sum. The payments will cover allowances due starting Thursday through the previously scheduled end of spring training.
The minor league season had been set to open April 9 but is being delayed because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. MLB said it is working with teams to develop an industry-wide plan to compensate players for missed games.
“We were excited to be able to help these kids,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “Help sustain them for some time, and hopefully we start the season and they start getting paychecks more.”
Players were sent scrambling late last week when MLB suspended spring training. Most minor leaguers were told to go home, including players from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and other countries, despite concerns they may have trouble getting back into the U.S. Some clubs made exceptions for foreign players and allowed them to stay in camp.
MLB had left it up to teams how to handle their minor leaguers, leaving players uncertain about the coming weeks and months.
Even for American players, the dismissals presented challenges. Most baseball players are paid only in-season, and many minor leaguers—especially those who did not receive lucrative signing bonuses—were relying on spring training camps for allowances, housing, meals and training facilities.
One minor leaguer told The Associated Press on Sunday that he was kicked out of camp with $800 in his bank account, no second job lined up and no idea how he would make ends meet until camps re-opened. The player spoke on condition of anonymity due to concerns his team might punish him for speaking publicly.
O’Hoppe returned to his family’s home on Long Island, where he didn’t have to pay for food and still had access to a personal trainer.
Friscia, also from Long Island, wasn’t so lucky—he recently had sent O’Hoppe photos of him lifting weights in his basement.
“I was like, ‘Hey, man, you usually go with a trainer, right?'” O’Hoppe recalled. “He’s like, ‘I can’t afford it,’ and he goes, ‘Even a basic gym membership is too expensive.’ It’s crazy $20 for him is too expensive. I feel for guys like him.”
Minimum salaries for full-season minor league teams range from $290 per week at Class A to $502 per week at Triple-A over the five-month season.
Some players turned to online fundraisers for support after camps closed, including one operated jointly by More Than Baseball and the @adoptmilbplayer Twitter account. More Than Baseball is a nonprofit support group for minor leaguers, and the Adopt A Minor Leaguer program was launched this offseason by a Minnesota Twins fan concerned about player well-being.
“Kudos to MLB for listening to its players, fans, and reporters. You all are the reason this happened,” More Than Baseball tweeted. “This only references ‘development of a plan’ for everything beyond April 8th. This is a step in the right direction, not a full solution.”
The lump sum allowances are for players signed to minor league player contracts, but there are exceptions for players currently receiving housing, food or other services from teams; those not participating, or expecting to participate, in spring training; and players with minor league contracts who were in major-league camp on March 13 and had at least one day of major league service in 2019. The latter group is receiving $1,100 weekly allowance through April 9 from the players’ association.