The Toronto Blue Jays are stepping up to the plate for their prospects.
The Blue Jays are finalizing a plan to increase the salaries of their minor-league players by over 50 percent beginning this season, according to Emily Waldon and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. This change, which has apparently been in the works for well over a year, will affect players at every level of the organization below the major-league team.
"We're cognizant of the challenges Minor League Baseball puts on the players," Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro told Waldon and Rosenthal. "This was an opportunity and a juncture in time when we were capable of recognizing the challenges that exist in the salary as well."
The wages of minor-league players has become a controversial topic across the sport. Prospects who are not on 40-man rosters can be paid as little as $1,100 a month depending on the level they play, Forbes' Maury Brown wrote last year. Many of the players on affiliated minor-league teams never reach the major leagues, meaning they spend years toiling at the lower levels without proper compensation.
Last March, the United States government passed a large spending bill that included provisions limiting the pay of minor leaguers by exempting Minor League Baseball from earning minimum wage and overtime pay. That news was greeted harshly at the time, and many players - including prominent big leaguers - have since publicly advocated for an increase to minor-league salaries.
The Blue Jays' plan caught the attention of veteran Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones, who praised the initiative.
Former first-round pick Slade Heathcott, who spent most of his playing days in the minors and last year called minor-league wages "a crime," also applauded the move.
The Blue Jays organization is affiliated with eight minor-league teams, including at least one at every level of Minor League Baseball.