Minor League Players Are Finally Going To Be Treated With Dignity By MLB

Yankees shortstop Anthony Volpe

For a century, young American kids have dreamt of playing in MLB. Through the years, they’ve wanted to be the next Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Mike Schmidt, Ken Griffey Jr., or Mike Trout. But, the reality is, the life for most professional baseball players has been pretty tough.

At the MLB level, it’s a great life. The minimum salary is around $700.000 for active players, a pretty great living. Yes, it’s harder in baseball to get to a big contract, as players are under team control for six through a semi-complicated set of contract renewable and arbitration rules. But, if a player does reach free agency as a successful player, they’re going to get paid. Even an average player, like Phillies pitcher Taijuan Walker, can get a huge contract, as he signed a 4-year, $72 million contract this offseason with Philadelphia.

But, for the approximately 7,000 minor league baseball players under contract each year, life isn’t so glamorous. Some players in Low-A and Rookie Ball have had salaries in recent years as low as around $5000, with terrible living conditions and the threat of poverty. These contracts, which are paid out by the parent club and not the minor league affiliations, aren’t a violation of US Labor Laws somehow, despite the players making much less than minimum wage.

This has been a hot-button issue in the broader sports culture for a few years now. But, now, MLB and minor league player leaders have agreed to their first-ever collective bargaining agreement.

Here are more details, courtesy of ESPN.

After years of disillusionment among future major leaguers about paltry salaries forcing them to work offseason jobs — and coincidentally on the day a judge approved a $185 million settlement the league will pay players who accused it of violating minimum-wage laws — the parties agreed on a deal that went out to a vote among the union’s rank and file and that will need to be approved by owners, as well, before it is formalized. The agreement could be announced officially as early as Friday, the first day of games in the minor leagues.

The pay increases at each level are significant, according to sources, and will pay players for most of the offseason as well as spring training, including back pay for this season. At each level, the pay structure will see annual minimum salaries go from:

Triple-A: $17,500 to $35,800

Double-A: $13,800 to $30,250

High-A: $11,000 to $27,300

Single-A: $11,000 to $26,200

Complex league: $4,800 to $19,800

Players are getting other things as well, like better housing conditions, nutrition, and transportation.

There’s work to be done still, but it’s a big first step by MLB in terms of making it right with the minor leaguers.