I have written all about how little minor league baseball players get paid in the past if you want to read about it. To make it short, they get paid less than minimum wage. Several former players have gone forward with a class action lawsuit to try and change that. At the winter meetings something strange happened.

Minor League Baseball backed Major League Baseball in the lawsuit. Ok, maybe that isn’t strange at all. But what was said by the vice president of Minor League Baseball at the winter meetings certainly was strange. He said that the minor league owners, who do not in any way, shape or form, pay the players, should lobby Congress to set minor league baseball players as seasonal workers so their salaries can be kept below minimum wage laws. It’s incredibly strange to see someone tell a bunch of millionaires to lobby Congress to keep people that they don’t pay, making less than minimum wage.

In other minor league news

Have you ever wondered what a day in the offseason looks like for a professional athlete? Well, 2013 supplemental 1st rounder for the Reds Michael Lorenzen can show you in the video below. It’s a little over 12 minutes long and shows his offseason workouts as he prepares for spring training in 2015. His routine is incredible and, well, just watch the video.

Some big news last week came out that the United States was loosening up the restrictions on the trade embargo with Cuba. That could lead to baseball players being able to come over and joining the Major and Minor Leagues. I took a look at what it could mean for the Reds specifically here. If this were to happen it is still a few years away and there wouldn’t be a mass exodus to America as Major League Baseball would set up a system with the Cuban government and their baseball association that would probably work in a similar way to how other international leagues work when it comes to players being eligible to play outside of their home countries.

Have you ever wondered how much value a minor league prospect is worth to their parent club? An updated study done by Scott McKinney and Kevin Creagh attempts to tell you just that and the numbers are rather staggering. Their study only looks at Top 100 Baseball America prospects, but elite Top 10 caliber prospects are worth $40-48M in savings compared to what teams pay free agents for in similar production over the course of six seasons. The numbers go down from there, but it really shows why teams are hesitant to trade prospects for proven Major League talent at times.

18 Responses

  1. lwblogger2

    That’s the thing that the players’ attorneys need to argue, there really is no off-season anymore. Therefore these players are not, in fact, seasonal employees.

    The pay in the minors has been poor for a long time. The bonuses are nice for higher draft picks but someone taken late doesn’t get much of a bonus if any at all. Back in the mid-90s when I played independent ball, I was talking to a few minor league players I knew and was shocked to find out that in fact, I made more money then a couple of them did. My per diem was better too. I hope the players win this one. If you make it to the Majors then you’re going to get paid but so very few players actually do.

  2. Dale Pearl

    I do agree that they should make at least minimum wage but at the same time I also feel that the maximum salary should be fixed. If you are going to fix the bottom price you also need to fix the upper price. Only makes economic and business sense. The owners may be able to argue this in the next CBA if they lose on the lawsuit front with the minimum wage part.


      But the minor league owners do not pay them, the MLB owners do so they are free to pay them much more to get them to sign (we payed 4 guys 1 million bonuses just this draft).

      The salaries need to be negotiated into their initial draft signing. Now, many of these guys get bonuses so it is not so bad for everyone. Also, they get free room and board. BUT, it is hard to argue that people should not get minimum wage (which is no where near enough to live on anyway).

      • Doug Gray

        Their salaries can’t be negotiated into their draft/signing because the MLBPA sets their pay for them without any representation.

        They also don’t all get free room and board. Some players live with host families, often more than one player at a time. That doesn’t do much good for a player with a family.

      • lwblogger2

        I’d add that some late draft pick bonuses are only a few thousand dollars. Back in the day, I would have signed for a Twinkie and some folks I know didn’t sign for much more than that.

    • CP

      “Only makes economic and business sense.”

      Can you name a single labor market where this is true?

      • Grand Salami

        What do D Leaguers in the NBA make? Clearly a much smaller league with more competition for spots . . .

        Sports are a unique animal. CFL and Arena League football players earn quite a bit more by comparison but let’s face it. Their will always be athletes willing to work for peanuts to pursue their dream. Is there a comparable market?

        It’s also worth noting that Baseball and the Feds are more linked at the hip than any other major professional sport.

  3. Carl Sayre

    When you figure in the travel time for minor league players they probably put in 2000 hours in 6 months. That is the same number of hours a full time employee would put in for an entire year so the teams need to compensate them.

  4. Tom Reed

    U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba will have a big affect on baseball. The Cuban League is a vibrant minor league on the Island and I’m sure they will want to protect that. And down the road when Havana is restored and Cuba is a part of the international monetary system, Havana could be a future location of a MLB franchise.

    • ohiojimw

      I read an OP ed about what may happen with Cuban players and MLB. It indicated the road will likely be long winding before there Cuban players have anything resembling open access to “organized baseball” as represented by MiLB and MLB. As you indicated, the Cuban gov will likely want to closely control the process to protect it domestic league not to mention making money off the flow of talent out of Cuba.

      The article opined that the greatest immediate and short term impact was likely to be that the guys who have already flown the coop will be relatively free to visit Cuban as often as they wish and stay as long as they wish. I saw where Brayan Peña who is now a US citizen said he is now an American and will stay an American but welcomed this apparent opportunity to visit extended family and relatives in Cuba pretty much as he wished on his own terms.

  5. JU

    I can say it’s a crime what the indy league players get in some of the poorly-run leagues. These are ownerships that basically own the entire league and have no good reason to be legit.
    Sure, these kids take a chance on a lot of things and maybe the best advice is to get a real job — but when the checks either don’t come or aren’t worth anything, the players can only walk away from it.
    Indy leagues aren’t affiliated but I don’t always agree on the “buyer beware” principle.

  6. Dale Pearl

    The average major league baseball player makes 4 million dollars a year. 4 million for a playing a game and the money is guaranteed whether the sink or swim, play or sit, gain 100 pounds or if they give the finger to the fans. Most of us probably don’t see 1 million is our lifetime. So I do understand why mlb doesn’t want to pay the minors more money. Maybe the players in the minors that are struggling should quit and go work at McDonald’s, nobody is forcing them to play the game of baseball.

  7. preacherj

    I wonder what effect the minor league pay scale has on college players and coaches? Once upon a time, the minors was basically automatic for players, now I think we are finding more exceptions to that general rule. For that matter, what has it done to even high school baseball? Could some of the training methods be so geared to making the majors as soon as possible that it increases infury> We are seeing serious injury issues at lower levels every single seasons at rates unheard of in the past. I have to wonder how much of the stronger, bigger, faster, mentality (which is a culprit of the injury spate) can be related to getting to the Show in the least possible time?

    • lwblogger2

      The training is definitely different and while it increases performance and pushes human limits, I agree that it’s also potentially causing more injuries. As we push athletes harder, they break more often. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what can be done about it. I don’t know if the goal is to get to the Majors more quickly but just the matter of wanting athletes, even high school level or sometimes lower, to be bigger, stronger, faster, better. I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

  8. Jerry Davis

    Last time I checked no one was forced to play baseball (this isn’t Cuba). These guys actually choose to do this because it’s something they want to do. If it doesn’t pay enough to suit them they should choose something else.

    • Doug Gray

      You’re right, no one forces them to do it. But if everyone had that attitude, there would be no minimum wage, the business owners would just pay you enough to not fight back (like what happened before there were laws against how little you could pay your workers – and how you could treat them). We got away from that kind of thing for good reason. No one is saying pay them half a million bucks. But you can’t pay them minimum wage?

      • Dale Pearl

        Like I said earlier Doug, it sounds fair to pay them a minimum wage but at the same time when they can sign a contract with apparently no top end it is pretty hard to feel bad for them.