Last week, the Nationals cut their minor leaguers' weekly stipend from $400 to $300 per week, according to multiple reports. That came as hundreds of minor leaguers across baseball lost their jobs -- with cuts more expected -- with the cancellation of the minor league season a near certainty, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan.
On Sunday, Doolittle posted a statement on Twitter vowing to help out the minor leaguers in his organization.
"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," he 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 in support."
Doolittle isn't the only major leaguer to pledge support for minor leaguers. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price plans to give each minor leaguer not on the 40-man roster in that franchise's system $1,000 for the month of June, sources told ESPN, confirming a report by Francys Romero. The Dodgers had already committed to paying their minor leaguers $400-per-week stipends through the end of June.
For more than a year, MLB has planned to contract about a quarter of minor league teams before the 2021 season. And with a drastically shortened amateur draft this year -- just five rounds instead of the typical 40 -- and the delay of international free-agent signings until as late as Jan. 15, minor league systems could become as thin as they have been in years.
All teams agreed to pay minor league players $400 a week in April and May to cover wages lost because of canceled games during the coronavirus pandemic. The $400 salary was given by MLB regardless of what the players were supposed to make, and went to hundreds of players who had been contracted to make several times that amount.
The Oakland Athletics told their minor league players they would no longer receive the stipend starting in June, drawing significant criticism. At least 16 teams have said they will pay minor league players beyond the policy's May 31 expiration date.