In the current discussions between MLB and the Players Association about the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), many outside observers and fans side with the union, for obvious reasons: the owners, for years, have gotten the biggest piece of the pie and want that to continue.
Players, however, are ready to stand up for themselves.
While most fans want players to get the best possible deal, a small portion of people criticize the union for fighting over their rights with a guaranteed salary of $570,000 (as of 2021), much more than the average worker in America makes per year.
That debate can be intense: the career of an athlete is, on average, much shorter than, say, a lawyer, teacher, or accountant, so the logical thing for them to do is looking to maximize their earnings.
One can understand fans who criticize the minimum MLB salary for being high for the average American, even if most observers don’t feel this way.
But what about minor leaguers?
MLB Doesn’t Want To Pay Minor Leaguers In Spring Training
They are often the forgotten children of the league, and the sheer number of minor leaguers is far, far bigger than the existing number of players in the majors.
The latest news pieces are proof of that.
MLB is currently arguing against minor leaguers receiving payment in spring training, per The Athletic’s Evan Drellich (subscription required).
An MLB lawyer, per Drellich, said last week in court that minor leaguers shouldn’t be paid in spring training because they should be viewed as ‘trainees’.
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
“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,” the league said per Drellich.
The way MLB treats its minor leaguers is not a surprise anymore, but that doesn’t make it less baffling.
So, according to the league, the minor league player benefits from the “training opportunities”, as if MLB didn’t get the rewards of these players (fully developed in the minor leagues) putting on a show in the form of TV deals, tickets, and merchandise sales once they make the majors.
The league acts like they are doing a favor to minor league players, and they are part of the show, as well.
This should infuriate every single baseball player and fan. https://t.co/RPcREkGkxl
— Advocates for Minor Leaguers (@MiLBAdvocates) February 12, 2022
They Need To Be Treated More Fairly
According to ESPN’s Joon Lee, the majority of minor leaguers made between $8,000 and $14,000 between April and October.
The writer reminded us that “the U.S. federal poverty guideline for one person in most states is $12,880 in annual income.”
Somebody needs to do something about the precarious living situation of minor leaguers in baseball.
Until 2021, they even had to pay for their own housing, which, in many cases, took almost half of their income.
The league said last year that they will force teams to provide housing solutions for their minor leaguers, but they need to earn a lot more money.
These players often travel around the country and live in less than ideal conditions.
What the league is doing with minor leaguers is borderline exploitation, and it needs to change.
When minor leaguers are heard and receive a fair treatment when compared to major leaguers, baseball will start to grow exponentially.
But if they treat these players as badly as they have been doing for years, there will be more resentment and unnecessary issues.
If baseball will grow, it needs to do it from the bottom, working its way up, and that means caring about the future stars, contributors, and role players.