The MLB Draft is the most exciting event of the year for young baseball players who eagerly await hearing their names called. Where will they go? What team will they play for? What comes next? First stop: the minor leagues.
Unfortunately, the disconnect from draft day to work in the minor leagues is jarring. Once the glitz and glam wear off, these athletes go from stars to another cog in the MLB’s money-making machine. They work grueling hours, training to be the best they can be for the chance to make it to the bigs someday. Many live paycheck to paycheck due to the MLB’s antitrust exemption that allows major league teams to pay their prospects well below a living wage.
Rob Manfred’s Tone-Deaf Comments
In a press conference today, controversial MLB commissioner Rob Manfred turned a blind eye to the dedication and struggles of minor league players.
Asked Rob Manfred if his owners don’t pay minor leaguers a living wage because they can’t afford to or because they aren’t interested in doing so.
“I reject the premise that they're not paying a living wage,” Manfred said.
— Hannah Keyser (@HannahRKeyser) July 19, 2022
Minor league players are only paid during the season, despite the year-round work they do. Annual salaries range from $4,800 to $14,000 depending on the level of the affiliate the athlete currently plays for.
Early draft picks can rely on their signing bonuses to carry them through their time in the minors, but that represents a small number of players in the system. How are players supposed to meet the physical demands of training when they can’t afford to nourish their bodies? Or have to sleep on the floor in an overcrowded apartment?
Manfred’s comment was extremely tone-deaf and flat-out disrespectful to the players whose work allows him to make millions each year. Team owners and MLB as a whole would be nowhere without the sacrifices these players make to chase their dreams. Executives profit from the exploitation of their players.
The Brewers’ Minor League Affiliates
There’s no way around it- the Brewers’ treatment of minor leaguers isn’t pretty. Recent data from Advocates for Minor Leaguers shows that the Crew ranks near the bottom of MLB organizations.
Today we focus our Minor League Progress Report on the NL Central.
The @Reds and @Brewers are two of the only MLB teams refusing to pay their players in extended spring training. pic.twitter.com/9G5J1JDe9a
— MiLB Players (@Milb_players) May 25, 2022
The Brewers are the only team in the NL Central and one of three in the entire league that refuses to first, pay minor leaguers for extended spring training this year and second, ensure that each minor leaguer has their own bedroom in team housing at each level. This is embarrassing and shouldn’t continue.
The Brewers welcomed a host of fresh faces to their minor league system during this year’s MLB draft. But what awaits them? The Brewers organization owes these young men better than what is presently promised. It’s past time for our team to take care of our future.
The MLB recently settled a lawsuit with minor leaguers resulting in a $185 million settlement to be distributed among some 23,000 players. The Senate Judiciary Committee is beginning to look at Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption. Removal of this exemption could lead to major change for minor league players. However, the Brewers should do the right thing now and start taking care of their players without being forced to.
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