The Major League Baseball Players Association announced Friday the creation of a special fund to support veteran players whose nonroster status this spring made them ineligible for shares of the $170 million being distributed to players during the major league shutdown as part of the union’s agreement with MLB.

At the top end of a sliding scale, the payments could provide up to $50,000 for nonroster veterans with at least six years of major league service time, with $5,000 going to players with less than a year of service time.

The fund was described by one union official as a pet project of MLBPA chief Tony Clark, who wanted to take care of players who, in some cases, had paid union dues for many years but didn’t stand to benefit from the deal with MLB. The fund was described as “voluntary,” meaning players — such as pitcher Félix Hernández, in camp with the Atlanta Braves this spring as a nonroster invitee — who earned tens of millions of dollars over their careers wouldn’t automatically receive payments.

Among the 371 veterans who stand to benefit from the union fund are pitcher David Hernandez and infielder Emilio Bonifácio, who were nonroster invitees with the Washington Nationals. As veterans with 10 and seven years of service time, respectively, Hernandez and Bonifácio would both be at the top of the sliding scale and eligible for up to $50,000 each.

Hernandez, 34, was cut by the Nationals in mid-March, but Bonifácio was still in camp with them when MLB shut down spring training amid the global novel coronavirus pandemic. The sport remains shuttered indefinitely, although major league and union officials have expressed optimism about being able to salvage a regular season and postseason in 2020.

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