As money squabbles delay MLB, many workers ‘just get steamrolled’

By James Wagner

Like thousands of minor league baseball players, Zack Kelly knew May 31 was an important date. With professional baseball on pause because of the pandemic, MLB had ensured minor leaguers would be paid $400 a week through the end of the month — and Kelly had a hunch that some players would be released as that expiration date approached.

He just didn’t think he would be one of them. Kelly, a right-handed pitcher, wasn’t a first-round pick or a notable prospect, but he was progressing steadily through the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system. Last season, at 24, he performed solidly at Class AA Mobile, a level where players typically earn about $9,300 a season. An elbow injury during spring training slowed him and he was awaiting surgery, but Kelly was looking forward to returning to the mound.

Then came the news on May 29 that he was among the 39 minor league players released by the Angels.

“It’s kind of frustrating because I felt like I had a career that wasn’t worthy of getting released at this point,” he said.

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