EVERETT — Last season Everett AquaSox general manager Danny Tetzlaff witnessed first-hand the struggles minor-league baseball players undergo in trying to secure their own housing.
Now the players will no longer have that stressor hanging over their heads.
According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball will begin covering the housing costs for minor-league players, starting with the 2022 season.
Major League Baseball (MLB), which took over administration of the minors last offseason in an effort to improve conditions for minor-league players, released a statement Sunday that said:
“In mid-September, the owners discussed the issue of player housing and unanimously agreed to begin providing housing to certain Minor League players. We are in the process of finalizing the details of that policy and expect it to be announced and in place for the 2022 season.”
“I’m happy to see it’s going to happen,” Tetzlaff said. “It’s been great in Everett, the host-family program has been very successful for us and created a lot of lasting memories for our fans and players as well. But having the Major League Baseball team help out and find these guys housing will be great.”
Everett, which joined the Short-Season A Northwest League as the Giants in 1984 and rebranded as the AquaSox after becoming a Seattle Mariners affiliate in 1995, provided players with host families throughout its tenure in the Northwest League.
However, when MLB took over and restructured the minors last offseason, the Sox became a full-season team as a member of High-A West. In previous years, any player advancing past Short-Season A had to find his own housing. The Sox considered continuing the host-family program even after being moved to High-A, but host families were prohibited by MLB last season because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, players either had to pay large amounts for a hotel or dorm room, or get creative with their housing.
This will no longer be an issue for Everett’s players.
“It’s a huge game-changer,” Tetzlaff said. “Especially now that were a long-season club. They’re here for more than five months, so they need a place to sleep at night. It’s a lot of stress for the ballplayer if he doesn’t know where he’s going to be when he comes off a road trip. Having a consistent place to go when he comes off the trip will be very beneficial and helpful.”
Tetzlaff said he has yet to receive any details about how the program will work, such as whether the players will be provide with housing, or whether they’d be given a stipend to find their own accommodations. He also said that he’s “strongly under the impression” that the cost of housing will be paid by Major League Baseball or by the Mariners, as opposed to being footed by the Sox.
Tetzlaff also did not know whether host families would continue to be an option.
“From what I hear, every market is different, so they have to see what makes most sense for that affiliate,” Tetzlaff said. “From what I’ve heard from the Mariners, they’re going to rely on their affiliates to help them out to figure out the best route to go.
“I just think this is a great step by Major League Baseball,” Tetzlaff added. “It’s a great step to helping out the ballplayers as they progress through the minor leagues. I see nothing negative about it at all, only positives.”