Major League Baseball decided Friday it “would move forward unilaterally” to raise minimum salaries for minor league players beginning next season.
In a memo obtained by the Globe, MLB executive Morgan Sword informed owners, executives, and farm directors of all 30 teams that all minor leaguers will receive pay bumps between 38 and 72 percent beginning in 2021.
MLB has always had the power to implement pay raises to players, but the timing of this one could not escape the shadow hanging over its contentious talks with Minor League Baseball over a new Professional Baseball Agreement.
Those talks dissolved into acrimony since word leaked last October that MLB wanted to strip affiliation from 25 percent of 160 minor league teams across the country.
Talks between MiLB and MLB are scheduled to resume next week in Dallas.
In the memo, Sword, the MLB executive vice president who has played a lead role in the negotiations, referenced the difficulties the sides have had in negotiating on good terms, including the specter of no agreement being reached when the PBA expires at the end of this season.
“We had planned to do this in conjunction with a successor PBA, but in light of the manner in which the National Association has conducted the negotiations to date, we need to move forward with planning for the 2021 minor league season,” wrote Sword.
The raise was discussed at the baseball owners’ meetings this month.
“MLB’s priorities include reducing the travel burden on players and improving player working conditions,” wrote Sword. “These and other objectives only can be reached with agreement of the National Association, or absent an agreement, following the expiration of the current PBA in September. However, we can move forward unilaterally with our goal of improving compensation for minor league players.”
In August, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a favorable ruling for a class-action lawsuit filed by former minor leaguers over insufficient pay.
The memo states that players in Rookie, Short Season A, Single A, and High A make a minimum of $290 a week currently. Next season, rookies and those playing short-season baseball would receive a 38 percent raises, to $400, while the weekly pay of the other two levels would rise 72 percent to $500.
Double A players make $350 a week, and would see that rise to $600, a 71 percent raise. Triple A players make a minimum of $502 a week. Their new minimum would be $700, a 39 percent increase.