The Red Sox took a step toward improving the welfare of their minor leaguers with a recent commitment to provide housing stipends for minor leaguers with their full-season affiliates, along with providing back-paid salaries to players who opened the year in extended spring training rather than with a minor league affiliate.
In recent years, the Sox have tried to improve players’ living and training conditions at the ballpark with, for example, better food provisions. The team views the housing and salary considerations as being a natural outgrowth of that focus.
“We’re always looking at ways we can improve player health and welfare,” said Red Sox senior VP of baseball operations Ben Crockett. “We felt like this was a way to help players away from the park with some of the challenges they have away from the field.”
Historically, minor leaguers have seen a significant portion of their salaries swallowed by housing costs. Housing can be particularly challenging for players given their seasonal employment with an affiliate and the possibility of shuttling between levels —and thus cities — mid-year, requiring the breaking of leases. The result has often been crowded apartments with uncomfortable sleeping arrangements for minor leaguers.
The Sox are now one of five organizations to provide housing assistance to minor leaguers. The Astros provide fully furnished housing to all of their minor leaguers, while the Sox joined three other teams in offering a housing stipend to players with full-season affiliates. Players at their complexes in both the Dominican Republic and Fort Myers have housing provided.
The organization also retroactively paid salaries to those players who opened the year in extended spring training — not with a full-season affiliate — dating to early May. While players receive salary during the official minor league season, not all teams pay players who open the year without an official team in extended spring training, which ran this year from the conclusion of minor league spring training in early May through the start of the Florida Complex League schedule in late June.
The Florida Complex League season started at the end of June and runs through mid-September, a stretch of roughly 12 weeks. The minimum player salary in the Complex League — in which games are typically played in nearly empty spring training parks — is $400 per week, or roughly $4,800 for the season. The addition of retroactive pay at $400 per week for roughly eight weeks would represent a pay increase of roughly 67 percent, with a full-season salary for about five and a half months of approximately $8,000.
According to Advocates for Minor Leaguers executive director Harry Marino, the decision to pay players for their time in extended spring training puts the Sox in line with roughly half of all MLB organizations. While Marino praised the Sox’ commitment, he noted that on the whole, minor leaguers — particularly at the lowest levels — still face challenging financial circumstances.
“The Red Sox decision is a significant step in the right direction,” Marino said in a statement. “[But] even after the raise, these workers will make roughly $8,000 this year. There is no excuse for any worker in America — much less one employed by a billion dollar entity — to be paid so little.”