Manfred defends treatment of minor leaguers and presses Oakland

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has defended the sport’s treatment of minor leaguers, drawing immediate criticism from a player advocacy group.

“I kind of reject the premise of the question that minor league players don’t get a living wage,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ahead of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

“I think we’ve made real progress in recent years in terms of compensation for minor league players, even putting aside the signing bonuses that a lot of them have already received. They get housing, which is obviously another form of compensation.


MLB raised minimum wages in 2021, raising the Class A salary from $290 to $500 per week, Double-A from $350 to $600 and Triple-A from $502 to $700 over a season of approximately five months. Players are only paid in-season, with salaries ranging from around $5,000 to $15,000 per year.

Amateur players residing in the United States and Canada who are selected in this week’s amateur draft have slot values ​​for their signing bonuses, which clubs use as guidelines, ranging from $8.8 million for the first pick at just under $150,000 for the final 10th and final round picks. MLB says it spends about $450 million each year on signing bonuses for first-year players.

Last November, MLB announced that it was requiring teams to provide furnished accommodations, with one single bed per player and no more than two players per room. Teams are responsible for basic utility bills.

“Most minor league baseball players work second jobs because their annual salary is insufficient to make ends meet,” Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, said in a statement responding to Manfred. “His suggestion that minor league pay is acceptable is both callous and wrong.”

Documents filed Friday in federal court revealed that MLB agreed to pay $185 million to settle a lawsuit filed by minor leaguers. MLB agreed in the agreement to rescind any bans on teams paying minor league player salaries outside of the season.

A first estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could split the money with an average payout of $5,000 to $5,500, with $55.5 million going to players’ attorneys.

Senate Judiciary Committee leaders have asked Manfred to explain by next Tuesday the impact of potential legislation removing the sport’s antitrust exemption from covering the sport’s relationship with minor league players.

While players with major league contracts are unionized, players with minor league contracts are not. The Major League Baseball Players Association donated $50,000 to Advocates for Minor Leaguers last November, according to a federal statement.

“It’s exciting to see the players recognize and appreciate the power of their collective voice to make positive changes in the things they experience day to day,” said union leader Tony Clark, a former first-team player purpose, to the BBWAA in a Q&A. session before that of Manfred. “Harry Marino and the Advocates for Minor Leaguers have done an amazing job engaging and educating Minor Leaguers and helping them find their voice. … We are watching. We are providing support when and where possible.

In other news:

– Manfred said the Oakland Athletics need to quickly reach a binding agreement for a new ballpark, and that relocation – the team is exploring Las Vegas – could be considered if a deal isn’t reached for a facility in the Bay Area. “It has to happen now. It has to be done.”

–His preferred location for a new Rays ballpark would be on the Tampa side of the bay rather than St. Petersburg, but he says the site alone won’t be a deciding factor.

– MLB is moving forward with uniform advertising plans next season. The new employment contract agreed in March allows teams to add publicity patches on uniforms and helmets. San Diego in April became the first team to announce a 2023 deal with Motorola. “I think jersey patch ads on shirts are a fact of life in professional sports,” Manfred said.

– Clark is concerned about the rise of sports business deals with sports betting companies. The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2018 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which banned sports betting. A BetMGM Retail Sportsbook opened this year at Nationals Park in Washington, DC, and DraftKings is building a sportsbook slated to open next year at the southeast corner of Wrigley Field. “We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here,” Clark said. you get a little nervous pretty quickly.

–MLB says it’s unable to let former and current major leaguers that defected from Cuba play for their country in the World Baseball Classic. The Association of Cuban Professional Baseball Players was created with the aim of gaining access to the WBC, which will be played from March 8 to 21.

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