Update: Alzolay has deleted his previous tweets and now has just this one at the top of his timeline. He may have pissed some people off by going public with his gripe, but it appears to have worked. Scroll to the bottom for more from Theo Epstein on this “misunderstanding,” but Sahadev Sharma indicated that a clubhouse attendant in South Bend may have incorrectly sought dues.
We worked it out
— Adbert Alzolay (@adbert29) July 10, 2020
Alzolay’s accounting may have been off just a bit as well, but players at the alternate site are only getting $25 per day.
It’s no secret that minor league players earn substandard wages that are only paid during the regular season, so it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that members of the Cubs’ auxiliary training squad in South Bend are earning next to nothing. Still, seeing the way righty pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay detailed it in a pair of tweets Thursday afternoon was a bit jarring.
According to Alzolay, players earn an $18 per diem and have to shell out $8 in dues and tips to the Clobby [sic], or clubhouse attendant. Two meals are provided per day, along with a bare-bones apartment for which players must provide their own television, bedsheets, toiletries, and other supplies. Oh, and they need to get at least one more meal.
All of that on about $10 a day.
Remember you’re literally making 10$ a day so if you don’t like the meals that you’re getting you have 10$ to get 3 meals or even less because you are t giving your Clobby tips.. so you need to spend from your savings until the season starts and you’re risking to get sick ???
— Adbert Alzolay (@adbert29) July 9, 2020
Since Alzolay’s actual salary won’t kick in until the season starts on July 23, he admitted that he’s dipped into savings for things like a cheap TV for his apartment. But what about some of the other players who aren’t on the 40-man roster and don’t have extra bonus money or some cash from a cup of coffee in the bigs?
At the very least, you’d think the Cubs would be able to hook these guys up with enough food to allow them to maintain proper nutrition. I mean, isn’t health supposed to be paramount here? The organization made a big deal out of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve its nutritional program at all levels, so there’s no excuse for this whole two-meals-a-day thing.
Or hey, maybe it’s just an clerical error and the per diem was supposed to be $180 before the zero got deleted. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.
If Alzolay’s account is accurate, this is pretty reprehensible on the Cubs’ part and doesn’t make sense at all from a pure business perspective. Setting aside the potentially complicated contractual mechanisms of paying players under a unique structure that’s still being ironed out, the last thing these guys need to be worried about is scraping together the most basic necessities of life.
Providing even a little bit more than the bare minimum isn’t too much to ask and the Cubs need to do better.
Ed. note: Even though I was totally joking, the whole thing about deleting a zero is almost accurate. Per MLB’s 2020 roster and transaction rules, “Taxi Squad players will not be paid MLB salary or accrue service time, but they will receive the Major League allowance of $108.50 per day along with their Minor League salary.” Take out the zero and you’ve got $18.50, right at Alzolay’s claim.
However, and this is the important part, the per diem above is for the three-man group that will accompany the main roster on road trips, not the additional members of the team’s 60-man player pool working out at the auxiliary location.
Update: Theo Epstein addressed Alzolay’s comments during his media availability Friday, saying that some of the claims were inaccurate but that the Cubs had not requested Alzolay delete his tweets.
“With Adbert’s tweets, he was just inaccurate in some of the things he said,” Epstein said. “There was a misunderstanding. Clubhouse dues are not being taken out of pay. Clubhouse dues are not expected to be paid by the players right now. Adbert, he was off on the amount of meal money that players are receiving.
“The fact still remains that minor league players are underpaid. It’s not an ideal situation for them. But on top of what’s being provided from the meal money and the salaries, two meals a day at the ballpark and the housing, there’s also a full staff of people that are putting themselves in harm’s way to really make sure the players are well taken care of — their health, their safety and also their comfort. And that staff has really done a phenomenal job of taking care of the players.”
Chris Emma’s story for 670 The Score incorrectly says summer campers receive the $108.50 per diem, though the roster rules referenced above limit that to the three-man taxi squad. The Cubs will play players at the alternate site $50 per day in meal money once the regular season starts, twice what they’re earning now.