MLBPA sets up fund for non-roster players, including 11 at Blue Jays camp

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marc Rzepczynski works against the Tampa Bay Rays, Aug. 26, 2009. (Darren Calabrese/CP)

TORONTO – Non-roster players, including 11 invited to Toronto Blue Jays camp, are eligible for payouts starting at $5,000 and rising to $50,000 as part of a new players’ union assistance fund approved by the association’s executive board Friday.

Tony Clark, the MLBPA’s executive director, pushed for the program to cover players stuck in the grey zone between the major and minor leagues, who aren’t covered in last week’s agreement with Major League Baseball.

That deal guaranteed a salary advance of roughly $170 million to 40-man roster players, while Major League Baseball subsequently extended weekly payments of $400 to minor-league players through the end of May.

Many non-roster players have years of big-league experience – and have paid years of union dues – and some would have won jobs over the course of spring training but didn’t get the chance. Any such player with at least one day in the big leagues and in camp on March 13 is eligible for the top-up over along with the $400 weekly stipend for minor-leaguers.

The union payouts are voluntary rather than guaranteed because some players that are financially secure are not expected to apply (say Felix Hernandez, with $217 million in career earnings). The amounts are based on service time accrued in the majors:

∙ 1 Day – 1 Year: $5,000

∙ 1 – 2 Years: $7,500

∙ 2 – 3 Years: $15,000

∙ 3 – 6 Years: $25,000

∙ 6+ Years: $50,000

Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski (8.047 years) and Ruben Tejada (6.004) are the only players at Blue Jays camp eligible for the full $50,000. Caleb Joseph (5.020), Jake Petricka (5.020), Justin Miller (3.083) and Ryan Dull (3.022) qualify for $25,000, while A.J. Cole (2.124) can get $15,000. Brian Moran (1.027) qualifies for $7,500 while Travis Bergen (146 days), Canadian Phillippe Aumont (133 days) and Andy Burns (36 days) are each eligible for $5,000.

Patrick Kivlehan (1.036) would have been eligible for $7,500 but was assigned to minor-league camp March 10, missing the handout by three days.

Joe Panik, a non-roster invitee who signed a minor-league contract in January, was added to the 40-man roster March 15, making him eligible for the MLB salary advance.

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