One day after learning their own major league players had pledged to cover the pay cuts the organization was imposing on minor leaguers, Nationals ownership reversed course and elected to continue making full weekly stipend payments to their players, a source familiar with the decision confirmed.
The Nationals’ intention to reduce the stipends given to minor leaguers from $400 per week to $300 per week throughout June was immediately met with a harsh reaction from the franchise’s own big leaguers. They organized a video conference call Sunday evening and unanimously agreed to cover the difference in payments, with reliever Sean Doolittle making that decision public in a lengthy post on his Twitter account.
“All of us were minor leaguers at one point in our careers and we know how important the weekly stipends are for them and their families during these uncertain times,” Doolittle wrote. “Minor leaguers are an essential part of our organization and they are bearing the heaviest burden of this situation as their season is likely to be cancelled. We recognize that and want to stand with them and show our support.”
Faced with the prospect of watching their own players pay their own minor leaguers, all amid the backdrop of an ongoing labor dispute over salary compensation for a potential 2020 Major League Baseball season, Nationals ownership reversed course today and said it will continue to pay the players $400 per week throughout June.
Even if the MLB season is played, it’s widely acknowledged there will be no 2020 minor league season. Players remain under contract, however, and these stipends represent their only source of income because they are not allowed to pursue other jobs or file for unemployment.
The Nationals are continuing to reduce pay for all full-time employees in their baseball and business departments, a decision made last week. Employees will have their salaries and work hours reduced anywhere between 10 percent and 30 percent, with the highest-paid employees subject to the largest cuts.