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Orioles to provide stipends to minor leaguers through end of season

The Orioles will pay $400 weekly stipends to their minor league players through the end of what was scheduled to be the minor league regular season.

Before Friday’s decision, which was confirmed by a team source, Baltimore had committed to paying the stipend through June. All 30 major league organizations have promised payments to minor leaguers up until June 30, with the Oakland Athletics originally saying they would end the stipends May 31 before criticism led them to promise to pay through the season. Baltimore is one of about 10 teams that have made that commitment.

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Orioles minor leaguers will be paid through Sept. 7, which would’ve been the final day of the minor league regular season had the season not been impacted by the coronavirus shutdown. The 2020 minor league baseball season has not been officially canceled yet, but it’s unlikely those teams will financially be able to host games without fans as the pandemic will require.

The Orioles’ decision comes one day after they completed a draft shortened from the traditional 40 rounds to five because of the pandemic and two days before they will be able to sign players who went undrafted, with those contracts maxing out at $20,000. With the Orioles effectively needing to recruit those players to sign with them, it’s possible the fact their minor leaguers will be paid stipends into September can be used as a talking point in any presentation they give.

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BaltimoreBaseball.com first reported the stipends would be extended.

Brad Ciolek, the Orioles’ supervisor of domestic scouting operations, said on a post-draft conference call Thursday night that the team planned to have a meeting with its scouting and development staffs Friday to discuss undrafted players to pursue once they were allowed to contact them at 9 a.m. Sunday.

“[We’ll] try to essentially target guys that we think would be significant impact players even though they were considered draft selections in the 2020 first-year player draft, and we’ll make every attempt to recruit those guys and try to sell them the benefits of joining the Orioles organization," Ciolek said. "... The next two days will be extensive research and discussions with our scout and development staff and try to figure our how many of these guys we’ll be able to grab and sign in the roster space, and then we’ll kind of move forward from there, but ultimately, we’re looking to continue to add more talent, even if we’re only allowed to offer up the $20,000 for these guys.”

Now, they can also offer $400 a week through the end of what would’ve been those players’ first taste of professional baseball.

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