MLBits: Law Will Soon Limit Minor Leaguers Earnings, Souza's Shoulder, Transmitting Data, More

Social Navigation

MLBits: Law Will Soon Limit Minor Leaguers Earnings, Souza’s Shoulder, Transmitting Data, More

Chicago Cubs

One of the most important stories that’s been brewing in the background of Major League Baseball for the past few years is the growing discontent with low wages in the Minors Leagues.

Although some Minor Leaguers are the benefactors of big signing bonuses from the draft or international free agency, most are not. In fact, most have little or no signing bonuses at all, and, thus, are forced to live on their in-season minor league salary, and, as we’ve learned over the past few years, those salaries can be shockingly low. When you consider all of the hours the players put in, many players are earning less than minimum wage, and are doing so only during the regular season – despite the fact that offseason training and even Spring Training is more or less required to succeed.

The reason teams are able to play their players as little as $1,100/month, for as little as three months out of the year is because their jobs are considered “apprenticeships” or “seasonal workers” who aren’t subject to federal wage laws. In other words, these players are supposed to be learning and training for peanuts now, because when they become Major Leaguers, they’ll earn the big bucks (which is true, MLB’s minimum annual salary right now is probably more than most people make in a decade).

But here’s the thing … most Minor Leaguers don’t make the Majors. Indeed, a 2014 study showed that about 10% of Minor Leaguers eventually play for their Major League team, and, obviously, many fewer stick around for long after that.

That same study showed that while Major League salaries have increased by about 2,500% since 1976, their Minor League counterparts have risen just 70%. And, frankly, we should all be a little concerned that Minor Leaguers are playing for relatively nothing, when there Major League organizations are raking in more money than ever before.

[Brett: Even if you don’t care about the human side of things, that just seems like a bad business practice when you think about the long-term quality of your product. Don’t you want all the players who could possibly contribute to your sport’s future to be compensated well enough to live passably and focus on baseball? Maybe there’s a great reason for limiting Minor Leaguers’ pay so severely, but no one has ever convincingly offered it up to me.]

So, against that backdrop, some MLBits …

  • Currently, there are a couple of lawsuits going on throughout the country, which, if successful, would force teams to pay Minor Leaguers commensurate with federal minimum wage laws (i.e., minimum wage plus overtime (which already isn’t a living wage, but one fight at a time)). Unfortunately, a bill that could be passed in Congress as soon as tomorrow, could wipe all of that away:

  • Craig Calcaterra shares his thoughts on this part of the bill at NBC Sports, and he’s *eh hem* less reserved in his vitriol for the law. But he does bring up a good point. Apparently, Calcaterra hasn’t heard many people taking up this issue because, he believes, most people either think that these players are already rich, or that earning less than minimum wage is just a small price to pay for wasting one’s time with a “hobby” instead of finding a “real job.”
  • But baseball is a real job and we’re talking about thousands of kids struggling to make ends meet (how can that be the best for the business of the game?). And even more than that, we’re not suggesting they earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, we’re just hoping they can get paid as much as a local fry-cook at McDonald’s.
  • According to Maury Brown, MLB really, really wanted this change to the law:

  • According to that graph, Major League Baseball has spent roughly $2.6 million over the last two years to lobby Congress to ensure that they can pay horribly-compensated Minor Leaguers less money. That’s ugly, and, no matter which way you slice it, wrong.
  • All right. That part of the MLBits is over. To break the tension, here’s the MSU baseball team looking like the most fun team on Earth:

  • If the D-Backs are forced to play without Souza Jr. for an extended period of time, it’ll surely hurt their chances in the race for the NL West (or, more likely, the Wild Card). Souza was projected to be their starting right fielder this season and is coming off a 3.7 WAR year for the Rays (120 wRC+, 16 stolen bases, 13.6 BB%). “Worst-case scenario, we’re built for this,” manager Torey Lovullo said of the injury. “The depth that we have, the work that the front office has done, we’re built for moments like this. I know the guys are ready for challenges, and we’ll see more tomorrow.”
  • At the Star Tribune, Chris Hine shares some really, really interesting, candid thoughts from Twins GM Thad Levine and Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey on the way they try to pass along information to their players. In other words, these two have found that delivering large swaths of advanced analytics and data to their players isn’t too effective. Some players either won’t understand what to do with the data or don’t believe it’ll work for them. Their (Levine and Falvey’s) job, then, is to build trust with their players and communicate information in very simple, easily digestible ways.
  • Aside from the not-so-subtle jabs at the attention spans of millennials (which is a little annoying), the piece is really spot on. In fact, it’s something the Cubs front office has talked about for a while, and it’s one of the things Joe Maddon is very good at doing. From what we understand, Maddon and his staff sometimes act as the filter for all of the advanced analytics the front office offers up. From there, Maddon picks and chooses the best way to relay that information to the players, whom he might understand better/more. It’s all really good stuff, and you should check it out.
  • Yo, Dee Gordon’s got THREE outfield assists this year already:

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Latest from Bleacher Nation:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami