While debates about mandate policies regarding Covid-19 vaccinations continue throughout the country, the Chicago White Sox have made it mandatory for all employees, including minor leaguers, to be up to date on vaccines and boosters.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan initially broke the story in which an email from the Sox organization stating that minor league players will not be able to participate in any spring training workouts until they are up to date on their vaccinations. A portion of the statement read:
"“The Chicago White Sox are requiring all of our employees to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination status, and this requirement extends to our minor league players as well. We believe this is the right thing to do to protect the health and well-being of all our players and staff across the organization.”"
According to Passan’s report, the White Sox are the first Major League team to require vaccinations for its minor league players. Back in late January, MLB said minor leaguers were not going to be required to get vaccinated, however on-field personnel who would be in close contact with those players would have to be up to date with vaccinations.
The Chicago White Sox really wants to help avoid spreading COVID-19.
The White Sox did impose vaccination mandates on its minor league players last season and Passen’s report stated that the team was 100% compliant at that time. According to his story, a number of minor league players currently are not vaccinated nor have some players received the COVID booster. Confirming a report from The Athletic, an ESPN source says the White Sox will not grant releases to players who refuse to get vaccinated.
Unlike MLB players who are part of a union and can collectively bargain issues like vaccination requirements, minor league players do not have such representation and can be subject to rules imposed by the parent club. MLB has not imposed a vaccination mandate for teams to impose on its minor league players
However, in an interesting twist, reports from last October indicated MLB was looking into mandating vaccinations for all minor league players prior to the start of the 2022 season. MLB even informed players heading to the Arizona Fall League in September that vaccinations were required for participation.