11 MLB Players Who Will "Play For Free" in 2020

By , WFAN Sports Radio 66AM & 101.9 FM New York

New York Yankees pitcher Jonathan Holder, current Red Sox (and former Mets pitcher) Collin McHugh, and 2018 All-Star righty Ross Stripling of the Dodgers are three of 11 major-leaguers who will be doing some “charity” work this season, as they are virtually playing for “free.”

Quotations around those two words because the players are, of course, getting paid, but they are on the business end of a bizarre contract quirk: all 11 players received salary advances in March that were larger than what will now be their prorated salaries for 2020, so they will not receive any further payment for the MLB season.

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Back in March, when Opening Day was officially postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a deal where teams would advance their players a total of $170 million in salaries over the first 60 days of the season.

The breakdown of that, per Ron Blum of the Associated Press:

Each of the roughly 480 players with so-called “straight” contracts that call for a single salary received $286,500. The 769 players with “split” contracts that have a lower salary in the minor leagues — generally a younger group not yet eligible for arbitration — got either $16,500, $30,000 or $60,000, depending on their minor league pay level.

In the cases noted above, Holder's $286,500 advance was $8,772 more than his prorated 2020 salary of $277,778 (based off his negotiated full-season salary of $750,000), while McHugh and Stripling were over after proration of their $600K salaries worked out to $222,222.

The other eight players, whose $286,500 advances were more than their listed prorated salaries per Blum, are: Dodgers RHP Jimmy Nelson ($277,778); Pirates infielder Erik Gonzalez and Twins RHP Matt Wisler ($268,519 each); Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp ($262,943); Braves LHP Grant Dayton ($242,593); Cubs RHP Jharel Cotton ($237,037); Royals RHP Jesse Hahn ($222,222); and Brewers RHP Freddy Peralta (approximately $202,000 base under a contract that includes signing bonuses to be paid every year).

Fortunately for the players, none of them will be individually responsible for repaying the overages, as the MLBPA will take care of that reimbursement to any affected teams.

A weird notion for sure, but one that at least one of the players can look upon now with whimsy.

“It’s going to be weird not getting a paycheck, but we already got paid,” Dayton told Blum late last month. “My first reaction (to the advance) was that if we don’t have any games this year, I’m going to get paid the same amount that Freddie Freeman’s getting paid, so that’s pretty cool. But, I knew that there was going to be a point that if we resume games, I wouldn’t get paid. And I was okay with that, because we still received significant amounts of money and we’re fine.”

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