DUNEDIN, Fla. — Union head Tony Clark lauded the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday for giving minor league players a 50 percent raise, and he hopes other clubs do the same.

Representatives from the players’ association visited the Blue Jays spring training camp a day after The Athletic reported the team planned to boost pay for all minor leaguers, some making as little as $1,100 a month in recent seasons.

Minor league players are not paid during spring training or the offseason. Those who don’t receive lucrative signing bonuses often struggle to afford meals, rent and basic equipment like cleats and bats.

Toronto is the first club to announce such a raise.

“I’m glad there has been some dialogue and a decision made in the last week to suggest that guys are going to be compensated differently than they may have been in the past,” he said. “We’ll have to see how other teams either do or don’t fall in line behind them.”

A lawsuit filed by former minor league players alleging MLB violated minimum wage and overtime requirements was pre-empted last year when the U.S. Congress passed the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” which stripped minor leaguers of the protection of federal minimum wage laws.


MLB has also pushed Arizona lawmakers to exempt minor league players from minimum wage laws there, a move that would affect hundreds of players who are not paid during spring training – despite working as many as 12 hours per day – and make only a few thousand dollars playing in the rookie-level Arizona League.

Clark noted conditions in the minor leagues have not changed much since he played there in the early 1990s. Despite that, the union has accomplished little at the bargaining table on behalf of minor leaguers.

Clark said he considers minor leaguers “a part of the puzzle” for the union, but added there are challenges to that relationship. Minor league players are not a part of the major league players’ association, nor are they unionized themselves.

“Although we don’t represent legally the minor league group, we will continue to do the things that we can do to support them moving forward despite that,” Clark said.

First-year Blue Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo was a minor league manager for 18 seasons. He said it’s “awesome” that Toronto is boosting pay.

“Hopefully that gives an idea to everybody else in baseball,” he said. “That’s awesome I think. I’m proud to be a Blue Jay by what we just did.”


YANKEES: Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury expects to play again following a hip injury, but when that will be is not clear.

• A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that left-hander Gio Gonzalez and the Yankees have agreed to a minor league contract.

If added to the 40-man roster, the 33-year-old Gonzalez would get a $3 million salary while in the major leagues and the chance to earn performance bonuses.

New York had been seeking more pitching following a shoulder injury to ace Luis Severino, who will not be available until May at the earliest. In addition, CC Sabathia is likely to miss the first week or two as he recovers from an offseason that included knee surgery and the insertion of a stent after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart.

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka heads a rotation that includes lefties James Paxton and J.A. Happ. Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa and Domingo German are competing for two open rotation spots.

Gonzalez was 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA last year for Washington and Milwaukee, which acquired him on Aug. 31. He was 3-0 in five starts for the Brewers down the stretch, then started Games 1 and 4 of the NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was pulled after two innings of the opener and one inning of his second appearance, allowing one run in each.


He is a two-time All-Star and was 21-12 in 2012, his first season with the Nationals. He just finished the second option season of a contract that wound up being worth $65.5 million

BRAVES: Right-hander Julio Teheran is set to make his sixth straight start on Opening Day, at Philadelphia on March 28.

DODGERS: Clayton Kershaw, who has been dealing with shoulder inflammation won’t be starting on Opening Day, ending his streak of pitching eight straight openers.

REDS: Left-hander Alex Wood is expected to open the season on the injury list as he recovers from a sore back that has limited him during spring training.

PIRATES: General Manager Neal Huntington said Jung Ho Kang and Erik Gonzalez won starting jobs in the infield.

Kang beat out Colin Moran at third base and Erik Gonzalez won the shortstop competition over Kevin Newman.

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