MLB owners, as we all know, are financially stable and have millions (in some cases, billions) of dollars to invest.
It’s ok to invest in winning, of course, but for baseball to be fair, they need to be willing to invest some of their money to the health of the game: keeping players happy, or at least, respecting them.
This applies not only to major leaguers, but also for minor leaguers.
After all, everyone from the hotshot, can’t-miss prospect to the 36-year-old journeyman deserves fair working conditions.
One of the primary points of discussion in the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) talks is how to compensate minor leaguers.
Until 2021, these players had to pay for their own housing, and travel and living conditions are sometimes poor.
According to ESPN’s Joon Lee, the majority of minor leaguers made between $8,000 and $14,000 from April to October.
That’s not fair compensation at all, especially not if we consider the amount of money MLB makes and how rich some of the owners are.
As it turns out, minor leaguers aren’t the only ones concerned about their working conditions.
The Athletic recently ran a survey asking fans which of the currently discussed problems around baseball they wanted the league to address.
That was the question, and the exercise asked fans to pick five options among the following: minor league pay and living conditions, broadcast blackouts, tanking, service-time manipulation, pace of play, universal designated hitter, automatic ball-strike system, revenue sharing, years until free agency, and other.
Ten options to choose five.
Minor league pay and living conditions topped the list with a 71.5 percent, far and away the most frequently voted option.
BREAKING: In a survey of over 11,000 fans, @TheAthletic found "Minor League pay and living conditions" is the #1 problem that baseball fans care about.
Fans don’t want to root for exploitation machines.
It’s time for MLB to give Minor Leaguers a seat at the table. pic.twitter.com/uP8M2DP4G4
— Advocates for Minor Leaguers (@MiLBAdvocates) January 20, 2022
It was ahead of broadcast blackouts (58.3 percent) and tanking (56.1 percent).
The rest of the ranking was as follows: service time manipulation, pace of play, designated hitter, automatic ball-strike system, revenue sharing, years until free agency, and other.
More than 11,000 fans voted, per The Athletic.
Fighting For What’s Fair
After compensation for minor leaguers, fans appear to have their own agenda (broadcast blackouts above everything else), different than players (years until free agency seems to be up there in the priority list for them).
However, they do agree on one things: MLB has to offer better compensation for minor leaguers.
They just can’t keep playing for scraps, or crumbs.
The saddest part is that the aforementioned $8,000-to-14,000 salary that minor leaguers got in 2021 was actually a raise of between 38 percent and 72 percent compared to the year before.
Yes, the universe of minor league players is far, far broader than the current major leaguers’ population, but something has got to give.
The gap between that kind of salary and what a major leaguer makes ($570,500 was the minimum salary in 2021) is too large.
But we shouldn’t compare minor leaguers to major leaguers: we should compare minor leaguers to an average, hard-working citizen of any occupation in America.
Fans don’t want to root for exploited players: not because they don’t deserve it (they do), but because they don’t want to see owners get away with paying them so little.
There will be another round of negotiations on Tuesday after the one on Monday, so that’s a promising sign.
The meeting between the Major League Baseball Players Association and MLB is over. There is not a deal, nor did anyone expect one. Union made a broad proposal that included removing pieces of its past offers.
The good news: They’re meeting again tomorrow. Passes for progress.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 24, 2022
In any case, any agreement will need to have compensation for minor leaguers as a priority item.NEXT: Pedro Martinez Remembers A Legendary Moment