How minor league baseball players, despite a pay rise, continue to be exploited by the MLB


Major League Baseball will increase the salaries of minor league players from the 2021 season. The minimum wage at each minor league level will increase by at least 38%, according to the Associated Press.

This means that beginner and short season players will earn $ 400 per week instead of $ 290; Class A will earn $ 500 instead of $ 290; Double-A will net $ 600 instead of $ 350; and Triple-A will make $ 700 instead of $ 502. Triple A players will therefore earn at least $ 14,000 per season. All other levels will earn $ 12,000 or less for the season.

The San Francisco Giants, for their part, will implement the increases this season. The Cubs and Blue Jays have also given increases to their Minor Leaguers over the past year.

The raises are a step in the right direction, but minor league players remain exploited and abused by the MLB. Let’s explain how by knocking on some important questions.

Why paying is still a problem

As noted above, the salary increase will still leave most minor league players below the threshold of poverty. This is because players are only paid for the regular season, which runs for about five months, from April to the end of August. Players are not paid for spring training or any post-season instructional work. They are also not paid during the winter.

Here’s a recent example of how the compensation structure works for Rafa Nieves, a prominent baseball agent and vice president at Wasserman Media Group who represents a number of foreign-born players, such as Jose Ramirez, Victor Robles and Luis. Castillo:

Playing professional baseball is a year round occupation, but the MLB and the minor leagues claim otherwise in order to save money. Congress passed the Save America Hobby Law in 2018, ruling that minor league players were not eligible to receive overtime pay despite working more than 40 hours per week when training, travel and all other activities are taken into account.

The MLB Affiliation Plan

Earlier in the winter, the MLB has proposed to revoke the affiliation status of more than a quarter of the 160 minor league teams as part of its negotiations with the minor leagues over a new professional baseball deal. The plan was originally developed by Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who has since been suspended and removed from his post.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has since said the MLB plan prioritizes player welfare, with a focus on improving salaries and facilities. Basically, MLB doesn’t want to be responsible for paying higher wages or maintaining stadiums, clubs, etc. for 160 MiLB teams. MLB made over $ 10 billion in revenue last season.

In a sense, the players are positioned against each other: a lot of jobs would be cut if the miners were downsized, but those who remained would be better paid.

MiLB players in video games

Minor league players even get the small end of the stick when it comes to video games.

While Sony’s MLB The Show franchise only ever included members of the Players Union, players could still download user-created lists that contained real-world leads. That will change this year, as MLB The Show will first ship with actual minor league rosters, a development that is being used in marketing.

While their involvement clearly has value to Sony, the featured players will not receive compensation due to the look-alike clause in their contracts.

If MLB is serious about improving the lives of minor league players and has legitimate concerns about footing the bill themselves, then demand that Sony pay. Something for the similarities of those players – and then handing that money over to the players themselves – would seem like a reasonable course to take. This is not the path the league chose in 2020, however.

Other amenities

Remember that part of MLB’s problems with over a quarter of its minor league affiliates is with the quality of their facilities. It is therefore curious that some MLB teams that own their affiliates choose not to allow their minor league players to use the amenities of their stadium.

For example, consider this recent tweet about the New York Mets Spring Training Stadium in Port St. Lucie, which recently underwent a $ 57 million upgrade:

Dishes covered only $ 2 million of these upgrades, the rest going to local taxpayers. Still, the Mets are concerned that allowing their minor-league players to use the big-league clubhouse will encourage complacency. Instead, the posh, state-subsidized pavilion will be in use for around six weeks a year – and the players are the beneficiaries.

An old but changing subject

Unfortunately, the mistreatment of minor league players is not new. Nor are the fear-mongering tactics used by league officials to excuse bad wages.

In 1994, the vice president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues said in response to the salary increase that “many communities that have minor league teams would lose them. “A quarter of a century later, that same excuse remains in circulation.

Progress has been made, and not just in the form of these increases.

Pitcher turned lawyer Garrett Broshuis won in January when a federal appeals court dismissed MLB’s claim that a 2014 minor league salary lawsuit would not be heard in a class action lawsuit. It came after a decision last August that players from Arizona, California and Florida could participate. The players are asking for back wages for illegally low pay.

Minor league players still lack representation in union form – their NBA G League peers are taking action to create one – but the rise of social media has allowed them to be heard louder than in the past. The more players shine a light on their poor living conditions and wages, the more pressure will be on MLB to do the right thing and pay minor league talent a living wage.


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