Rob Manfred rejects the idea that minor league members aren’t paid a living wage

LOS ANGELES – When asked why Major League Baseball team owners don’t pay minor league players a living wage – because they can’t afford it or because they don’t want to – MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suggested that these players were in fact being fairly compensated. .

“I kind of dismiss the premise of the question that minor league players don’t get paid a living wage,” he said at a press conference ahead of the MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.

“I think we’ve made real headway over the past few years as far as minor league player payouts go, even putting aside the signing bonuses that many of them have already received,” he said. “They get housing, which is obviously another form of compensation.”

The question of how much non-union minor league players get paid has recently become a particularly sensitive issue. Last week, MLB agrees to pay $185 million settle a class action lawsuit filed by thousands of current and former minor league players over past wage claims.

Under the proposed agreement, which is yet to be approved by a judge from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, MLB must formally notify all 30 major league clubs that they can no longer ban teams from paying players during spring training. extended spring training or any non-champion season operation, including the regular season and playoffs.

In addition, both Congresses (Senate Judiciary Committee) and executive power (Ministry of Justice) have recently expressed interest in freeing MLB from antitrust laws and the minor leagues.

Amid a wave of players and defense groups becoming more public with their concerns about the lives of minors, MLB reorganized the minor league system two years ago, which was also claimed to lead to better working conditions.

MLB raised pay for minor league players in 2021, with the Class A minimum wage going up from $290 to $500 a week and the Class AAA wage going up from $502 to $700. And this season he adopted a housing policy in which all 30 MLB teams had to house the majority of the players. (In the past, players often had to pay for their own accommodation, resulting in cases where multiple players were crowded into the same room.)

However, according to minor league quarterbacks, non-profit organization founded in 2020, the “vast majority” of minor league players “earn less than $12,000—below the federal poverty line.” In a statement released Tuesday, group chief executive Harry Marino, a former minor league player, denied Manfred’s claim that they were earning a living wage.

“Most minor league baseball players work second jobs because their annual salary is not enough to make ends meet,” he said in a statement. “The commissioner’s annual salary is $17.5 million. His assumption that the salary in the minor leagues is acceptable is heartless and false.”

(The major league claimed that minor league players were like apprentices—in art, music, and theater, for example—temporarily seeking to break into the big leagues, where they would be heavily compensated. The most talented amateur players can earn bonuses of several million dollars. when they sign with MLB teams.)

Tony Clark, head of the MLB players’ union, who also met with reporters on Tuesday, and Manfred touched on a variety of sports-related topics, including the state of the annual amateur draft; potential upcoming rule changes; and team competitiveness.

The parties have until Monday to decide whether to introduce an international projectthe only unresolved clause of the collective agreement, which the parties agreed on in the winter.

MLB had long wanted an international draft, but the union was against it. But the union also wanted to end the qualifying offer system, which ties draft picks to top free agents, as they believe the system has hurt the market value of these players. To refuse it, the trade union had to agree with the project.

Manfred, who has expressed interest in expanding MLB to 32 teams, said he couldn’t provide a timeline for when that could happen, especially because the ongoing struggles in the existing franchises’ legs – the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays – were a priority.

“I need to decide Oakland and Tampa before we can really talk about expansion,” he said. “It’s just that these situations, in my opinion, are quite serious and timely, so they should be our number one. 1 goal.

Clarke added: “We really like the development of the game. Extension, we’d be fans.”