Major League Baseball owners caved to the public pressure to raise the wages of minor league players in 2022. That, though, came on the backs of MLB cutting 40 teams, and about 1200-ish jobs for players in the minor leagues. The raises that came with the new season were covered plenty simply by eliminating other jobs for players. Another part of the reason that MLB likely raised the wages for minor leaguers, though, is that they are currently facing a lawsuit over their compensation of minor league players that is now in year eight. Evan Drellich and Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic wrote about some of the things from the courtroom on Friday.
MLB argues for minor leaguers to stay unpaid in spring training: "It is the players that obtain the greater benefit from the training opportunities that they are afforded than the clubs, who actually just incur the cost of having to provide that training” https://t.co/md2BqNjr0X
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) February 12, 2022
Think about the argument here. Spring training isn’t actually work. It’s training for future work so you shouldn’t be paid. Isn’t the next logical step here to then suggest that players shouldn’t be paid for regular season minor league games because those too are just training for future work?
The attorney for Major League Baseball actually cited a report that the players are actually getting $2,200 of “value” for this training during spring training, citing that is what it would cost them based on what amateur players pay for training. That, somehow, means that they shouldn’t pay the players (they have contracts that last for years unless released, can and are drug tested during the offseason when even MLB tries to suggest they aren’t employees – they claim they are akin to “seasonal employees”).
They do get free room and board as well as transportation, though there should be some minimal pay as well.
In the corporate world, we always paid our trainees as well as footing the bill for their training. And they generally made more that the average AAA minor leaguer. But this illustrates the problem to me – MLB is a monopoly and does as it will. We need another Curt Flood moment.
A key difference is that minor league players aren’t on MLB 40-man rosters. In other words, they aren’t involved in the revenue-generating operation of MLB. Most companies do pay trainees that will move directly into revenue generating positions after training. Most minor league players don’t meet that standard as they will be playing in minor league games not MLB games upon the completion of Spring Training.
To enter many professions, the entire training/education process that leads to a professional license is born by person aspiring to enter the profession (health care professionals, teachers, pilots, etc.). These are often lengthy and very costly.
Which is actually a US Labor Law that you must pay employees for time spent training for their job. You could argue that Minor Leaguers are in training as well….not sure I’d die on this sword if I am the Owners.
There are all kinds of profession that require the trainee to work for free as part of their education – teachers, nurses, pharmacists and doctors to name few. In fact during their education they are actually paying tuition to an institution for the privilege of gaining knowledge and experience at an employer who is training them. I’m sure there are other examples.
How does minor league pay differ from the way MLB players paid in Spring Training?
The big leaguers get a lot more meal money, but neither group gets paid.
This is a reason the minor leaguers love to dress for the big league spring games as they get the big league per diem for that day. Last I knew it was $120. Minor leaguers were paid $5 per week. The Reds used to house the minor leaguers at the Hilton maybe they still do. The players were taken in vans to the complex where they had a light healthy breakfast, lunch was also served there and at the end of the day they are vanned back where there is a buffet meal provided at the hotel. Of course there is medical care available to them as well.
If you include transportation costs to and from sometimes internationally it isn’t like there isn’t a significant financial investment into these young men, for which there is 0 financial return until a small percentage of them make it to the big leagues.
Are teams this hard up for money?!?!? Teams are invested in these players doing well. Pay these young players!!
It would certainly seem in MLB’s interest to have minor league players training year-round and accordingly compensated. Their argument would be that many get sizeable signing bonuses and that MLB just raised minor league pay. The counter-argument is that the pay is still pretty low on an annual basis.