Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner sat down for an interview with Josh Norris of Baseball America last week at The Winter Meetings. You can read the entire interview here, which includes some real interesting things – including possible leagues playing against each other in the regular season.

There are a few questions that really need to be addressed from the interview. All of the ones I’d like to address revolve around pay for the players. If you’re interested in seeing the pay scale for a minor leaguer, I wrote about it a few years ago. It remains unchanged.

JN: I’ve seen Stan Brand and other people characterize minor league players as apprentices or interns. Do you agree with that characterization?

POC: Well, yeah. In a technical, legal sense we can debate what that title is. I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player. Anecdotally, I tell people all the time, if I’m a scouting director and I sign a player and ask him, ‘Son, OK, what’s your career goal?’ (and he says) ‘I want to be a career minor leaguer.’ We’re tearing the contract up. You’re not here to stay long.

When I ran ball clubs, my opening comment to my clubs, my opening comments to my clubs is ‘I’m glad each and every one of you are here and I hope I don’t see any of you next year because you’ve gone to play in Double-A.’ So, look, the average life or the average career of a minor leaguer is less than three years. I do think that it’s time for an adjustment in salary, but the issue of putting them into an FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)-protected position where they’re entitled to minimum wage and overtime is complicated

What he is saying here, is right on one point. If your goal is to be a career Minor Leaguer, then yes, you probably don’t want that guy in your organization. Let’s first tackle the thing where he notes that when he was an owner….. he owned Minor League teams, which means he wasn’t paying the players at all. So he had no contracts to deal with, nor any salary to pay to them.

Maybe the average Minor League career is less than three years because for some, they simply can’t afford to keep playing for literal peanuts. I know of several guys who were having success in Double-A and Triple-A who retired because they got better paying offers in their mid-20’s and it just wasn’t worth making $9,000 a year anymore to chase a dream. When you “work” in baseball from February through September, and sometimes through October for instructional league, but only get paid for April through August, it’s not exactly easy to find an “offseason job” that pays much because those jobs aren’t temporary.

But, the biggest thing that rubs me the wrong way is that he believes they deserve more pay…. but just not something “Fair”, as in the Fair Labor Standards Act, or even minimum wage or overtime. Because, yeah. That makes sense.

POC: What’s a (minor leaguer’s) workday look like, Josh?

JN: It’s long. It’s very long.

POC: But is it? OK, you come in at 2:00. You don’t have to be there till 3:00, but you come in at 2:00. From 2:00-3:00, you play cards. And at 3:00 you go out for infield or extra hitting or whatever, and then you come back and you take an hour. While the other team’s hitting, you take an hour and you get a sandwich that I (the club) pay for and you eat it. Are you working?

JN: Perhaps not, but at a lot of places where workers are paid an hourly wage, lunch breaks are paid.

POC: But not in all cases. There are people who clock in and clock out for lunch. My point is: We know what minimum wage is, that’s easy.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m going to do my best. First, yes, the day is long. You come in at 2pm, and no, it’s not always just to play cards. That “hour” while the other team is hitting – it’s not always just sitting around and doing nothing. Yes, many players do use it as personal time before “game time” gets going. Particularly at home when that time falls between 5-6pm. But, do you know what else some of the guys have going on at that time? Extra work in the cage. Interviews with the media.

Things have changed around most of the league. The team owners aren’t paying for the food these days. At least not on anything like a regular basis. Not that many did, anyways. That used to fall on the clubhouse attendant. They paid out of their own pocket and was then “reimbursed” with “dues/tips” from the players to ultimately pay for that. Mind you, of course, that this was done on less than minimum wage pay. He’s literally trying to argue here that paying that extra hour, that HE OR ANY OTHER TEAM OWNER WOULDN’T EVEN BE PAYING FOR, isn’t a problem. This, of course, is the line of thinking being fed to them by the Major League owners.

The Cincinnati Reds went to a situation where they, like many other teams, began to provide their farm system with catered meals in their home ballparks during the season. It’s full of healthy food, planned out to help keep them in better shape throughout their careers. On the road, the players get a per diem of $25 per day for food. Given that they don’t get out of the ballpark until about 11pm (or at least back to the hotel), the food options aren’t exactly great.

Later in the interview he draws a comparison to working at McDonalds and I just about punched my monitor. Literally any one of you could go work at McDonalds right now and probably be a solid employee. I doubt more than five of you who are reading this were ever good enough to play Minor League Baseball and have people pay to watch you work.

Who could step in and change things? There are three parties who could. The first, of course, is the owners. They are the ones who pay the players. I’ve noted on several occasions that for just over half the price of a league minimum salary for a Major Leaguer, they could increase the pay for every single minor leaguer in their organization by a significant amount of money. Of course, we’ve seen that they will do everything they can, to not spend any more money than possible.

The next group is the Major League Baseball Players Association. Minor League players not on the 40-man roster are not represented by a union. That means that an overwhelming majority of Minor Leaguers don’t have a say at all in the rules that apply to them. The MLBPA negotiates for them. It is why they are drug tested for different drugs than Major Leaguers are. It is why the Collective Bargaining Agreement is vital in determining how amateur players can and can’t be signed. And for how much. If they wanted to, they could put it in the next CBA to raise the pay for Minor Leaguers. When they want to, they can make changes. See the Shohei Ohtani signing. They held that up until they got what they wanted, basically voiding a part of the just reached CBA.

The final group that could change it is the lawmakers/court system. There are ongoing legal battles currently taking place about this. There have even been laws introduced by Congressmen – though these were to protect the owners from having to increase pay. I know, it’s surprising that the billionaires had lawmakers on their side instead of the people making $1400 a month. But I digress. The court system seems to be the most likely source for a change here. Classifying the players as something beyond “season workers” so they can qualify for minimum wage at the very least would be a start. Right now, they are somehow seasonal employees by law. It’s weird that during the winter the seasonal employees at Kings Island aren’t drug tested like minor leaguers are. And other seasonal employees are open to plying their trade for other employers without permission, unlike baseball players.

61 Responses

  1. Jami Sanderson

    Man, this guy is a numero uno DB. Glad I didn’t see the interview, just read your column but that was enough. Ughhhh. Thanks Doug.

    • Michael W.

      Doug, I appreciate your respectful thoughts for the minor league players.

  2. Michael

    If they decided to pay non 40 man milb guys $2,000 a month we are only looking at 400k a month. I think that would be fair. It would put u at the bottom of the hourly exempt pay scale and enough to really survive.

  3. Jon Ryker

    Practice you are doing to become a better player yourself can readily be equated with going to college…..people don’t get paid for that…….it’s a paid internship…..a large portion of these guys are not major league material……being forced to pay them more will simply cause ticket prices to rise…..

    • Michael

      Difference is they are already being paid. Legally my employer can not send me to an unpaid conference for practice.

      • Michael

        Also not a dime for this is coming out of t he minor league owners pocket. The guy is a mouth piece for MLB owners in this interview.

    • Doug Gray

      As others have noted, it’s required training and it’s at the workplace.

      And no, it’s not a paid internship. There are laws that define what an internship is. Baseball players aren’t interns.

      And the cost of tickets is not related at all to the salary of the players. Not in the minors. Not in the Majors.

  4. JPhillips

    Maybe that would apply if MiLB had limited hours for practice and provided free educations, meals and housing, but they don’t. It’s a job, and like any other job, they should at least be covered under labor laws.

    Doug: I’ve mentioned it before, but I’d love an article on how to make MiLB better both in terms of development and work environment. What would you do if you were king of MiLB?

  5. Bill

    There are at least two other factors to that need to be considered: the signing bonus that players sign and education benefits provided by teams that encourage players to skip college or leave early to play professionally sooner. My point is that the total compensation needs to be considered in this discussion, not just the paltry annual salaries.

    • Mark

      Many players don’t get big signing bonuses. When people talk about minor leaguers struggling to make a living it is the other guys that are needed to field teams and are long shots to make it to the majors, not the high profile draft picks. Looking over the 2016 draft there were many guys in the last few rounds that signed for under $10000. I don’t think it is unreasonable to require players to be paid minimum wage and for the whole time they are required to be available, not just during the regular season.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think anyone is worrying much about the Nick Senzel’s of the world. They’ll be ok. But what about Jose Altuve, for example. Who signed for $15,000. Got to keep less than half of it after everyone got their cut of it, then made less than $1000 his first season of pro ball – though, at least in the VSL/DSL the players housing is covered as they live “on campus”. The next year he moved up to the US, where he started making more money, but still peanuts, but then had to pay for everything out of pocket.

      Drafted players out of high school do get college tuition covered in the future (though now days there are restrictions, when it used to just be whenever you wanted to go back to college). That doesn’t apply for international guys, or college players that are drafted.

      But, money is money is money. You can get a job that provides you insurance, and will match your 401K contributions, and provide assistance or even fully fund your future education – but they are still required to pay you a certain level by law.

      • Doug Gray

        And what about the guy who didn’t turn into Jose Altuve? Was it ok to treat him the way he was? Because that’s the story for 97% of the guys that sign contracts.

      • Tony

        Yes completely fair. Their are choices in life Doug and nobody is forcing anyone to play minor league baseball against their will.
        For every minor leaguer who plays for peanuts there are literally 1000s of others waiting for the opportunity to take his spot if he doesn’t think the opportunity is fair.

      • Doug Gray

        And there are literally 1000s of others waiting to take on the job of Reds manager. Does that mean it should be ok to pay that guy $6,000 a year?

      • Bill

        I think it’s pretty easy to poke giant holes in Mr O’Conner’s statements. But what is a good comparison for compensation? Minor leaguers can be 16 year old IFA signees, recent high school grads, college undergraduates, or college graduates. There’s a pretty wide range for opportunities for each group.

        How does minor league compensation compare to the value of a partial baseball scholarship at a 4-year college? I’m not sure minimum wage is a good comparison, or the best solution. For example, would players have incentive to play for extra innings? Would management push to curtail rain delays?

        What is the total value of compensation including everything…medical insurance, signing bonuses, housing, food provided, salary (which almost more like a stipend really)?

        When considering the total compensation and appropriate comparable situations, how many players are in a position where they struggle financially?

        As profitable as MLB is for both players and owners, I certainly understand the frustration many feel for the small bonus players. Seemingly it would take only a small, fractional investment to resolve this.

      • Tony

        I think your question if rhetorical in nature? At least I hope it is. One thing is clear is that you have a very poor understanding of economics and supply and demand. Any talented managerial candidate most likely wouldn’t work for that because there are better offers elsewhere for them. However many talented baseball players (most with the ability to do other things for more money) will play for what’s being offered because they consider it a good offer. In fact I would be willing to bet that many would play for free just for an opportunity to play major league baseball. Why do you think that is?

  6. Wes

    I go back and forth on this. There is plenty of wealth to redistribute but that’s the definition of socialism. 99% of money is made at mlb level. Also even guys who don’t get drafted like friedl get 732k as a signing bonus. So they do make a lot of money! If friedl plays 3 years then he averages over 250k a year over that timespan. Even if your signing bonus is a 100k- you average over the median household income in America over 3 years. And some minor league guys who reds have signed as minor leaguers get an additional signing bonus right?

    Santillan got 1.35M. So at 17/18 he became a millionaire (however brief). Let’s say he doesn’t make majors til 6 years in minors. That’s still over 200k a year not counting the peanuts he gets paid. And signing bonuses go up every year.

    On the flip side ownership getting richer doesn’t inspire me to watch more or want more baseball. Nor does players signing 40 million dollar annual contracts that are on the horizon.

    Let the squabble between billionaires and millionaires continue I gues

    • Colorado Red

      And there are the guys that sign for 30K, even if they make the majors is 4 years, it is a tough 4 years.
      (just saying)

      • Josh

        I mean I think they should for sure be paid more but I also think there should be a salary cap so that small market teams can actually compete regularly. Neither of these things will likely happen because at the end of the day people are greedy basta*ds LOL. I mean it really is what it is. But I will say its kind of the nature of the beast high risk high reward kind of job.

      • Wes

        Salary caps is worse thing in nfl. Made players WAY poorer and owners WAY richer! No cap may help u retain players but doesn’t necessarily mean you can buy championships. Gotta go back pretty far on ws list to find a team who bought a championship.

      • Gilbert Keith Chesterton

        I’m not sure a salary cap would ever get thru in MLB. Not seeing a scenario where the big market teams or the ESPN’s of the world will accept an even playing field where small market teams get an equal playing field, and don’t have to go thru rebuilds every few years.

    • Mark

      Friedl was the exception for undrafted guys not the rule. He got that much because teams didn’t know he was draftable or he played well after the draft. I just looked at the 2016 draft and many guys in the later rounds signed for less the 10k.

      • Josh

        Yeah but you don’t have to sign. You can easily just say eff it and be a scrub 9 – 5 er like most of us fools. I mean at the end of the day it is their choice to make.

    • victor vollhardt

      WES and Bill—make good comments. Lets remember they all come into this system with their eyes open—nobody keeps them under lock and key. People in music (all levels) actors and dancers go through an even longer “internship”–unpaid. It comes down to how bad you want to follow this path. There is even a school of thought that without this hard underpaid path(this includes sending first year guys as far away from their home base as possible)this may be the best way for teams find out rather quickly who wants to do the effort. If you bring the courts into it—you stand a really good chance to destroying all of baseball. Just look around your daily life and see how that solution has worked out. Charlie Finley was a wild man no doubt, but he was in the insurance business and knew how binding arbitration worked and warned MLB about it . Marvin Miller was stunned that the owners accepted it. It builds a “floor” for the future high salaries that very often don’t fit the player”s performance and the worst part the landmark cases are settled/driven by people with little knowledge or love of the game. We all have ideas, but let the owners MLB players association and all of baseball hammer it out among themselves. If you really feel strongly about minor league players plight write the Reds front office.

    • Doug Gray

      And on the flip side, Connor Ryan, the 8th round pick, signed for $10,000. Same for the 10th round pick. And they didn’t even get to keep all of that.

      A large majority of players don’t sign 6-figure bonus deals. It’s actually a very small portion that do.

      No one is squabbling over billionaires and millionaires. We are squabbling over billionaires and people not being paid minimum wage.

      • Bill

        “A large majority of players don’t sign 6-figure bonus deals. It’s actually a very small portion that do.” That’s a true statement if including IFA along with the Rule 4 draft. But according to your website the Reds signed 18 draftees for more than $50,000 (only 3 of the 18 were under $100K), 4 received $10K or less signees bonuses are listed as unavailable. It looks like the slot system used in the Rule 4 draft ensures the vast majority of new players receive a bonus that compensates for the low salary. Maybe the IFA would also benefit from a draft with slot values similar to the Rule 4 draft?

      • Bill

        I don’t believe I implied they should not be considered.

        My observation is that the slotting system with the Rule 4 draft has yielded bonuses that compensate for paltry salaries. In fact, most of the low bonuses go to players willing to sign knowing their slot value is being used to entice another big bonus signee.

        I also suggested that a draft for international draft could also be implemented with a similar slot system in order to more evenly spread bonuses across a wider number of players.

  7. Little Earl

    MLB total pay out including bonuses is more than plenty. They should not have to pay more. Now it’s clear the lesser talented players that didn’t receive much of a signing bonus are in a tough situation. So maybe there is way to reduce the signing bonuses, while increasing standard salaries.

  8. Shamrock

    Well, they certainly could put a much harder cap on a signing bonus for guys like Hunter Greene and invest that money into the lesser known players.
    This would be great on multiple levels in that not only will the coworkers all be making at least minimum wage but will also promote better parity amongst teammates which’ll lead to a happier clubhouse. And it assures that the prices of hot dogs and tickets won’t blow up for the fans. Everybody’s happy!!

    • Doug Gray

      Your ticket prices and food prices literally aren’t related to what the team pays the players. There’s no connection. They are priced what they are because they know that’s what you’re willing to pay for them.

      What they should do, is take 1% less of their profit and use it to pay the minor leaguers some more. Right now, Major League players are only getting 39% of all MLB revenues. In the late 90’s they were getting 51%. Owners are keeping more revenue today than they have, maybe ever. The money is there. They just want to keep it.

  9. Scott

    Looks like slave labor to me! They did not discuss how college seniors are taken advantage of because they have no leverage of going back to school. If a senior gets drafted after the 4th round they get almost nothing for a bonus!

  10. Shamrock

    Maybe we can get rid of the whole signing bonus system all together?
    We could then use that money to give all the minor leaguer players a salary of around $50,000 a year.

    7 minor league teams of 25 rostered players = 175 players per franchise
    175 players X $50,000 = $8,750,000 a year in salaries

    I read that Hunter Greene got a signing bonus of over $7,000,000…so getting rid of the bonuses would just about pay for the all the young guys to be well compensated……

    • Shamrock

      Or perhaps even a little bit of a ladder system:
      below Billings = $15k a year
      Rookie ball = $20k a year
      Low A = $25k a year
      Middle A = $30k a year
      High A = $35k a year
      Double A = $50k a year
      Triple A = $75k a year

      This way, even if everybody knows a guy isn’t exactly “MLB material”, they’ll all still be financially motivated to reach a higher level.

      And these salaries could be completely absorbed in just simply doing away with the signing bonuses.

      It would create both parity and a “prove it” system where everyone advances and makes more money based on their actual merit within the franchise. (a far better system than giving $7 million dollars to one guy just for being a high school jock)

      • Shamrock

        You won’t admit that kid is way overpaid?
        Ya know, I’m with you….to an extent.
        Owners can certainly offer up 1% to be sure that these kids don’t starve.
        But these signing bonuses have gotten way out of the range of reasonable, these free agent contracts are horrible, and MLB needs to set a firm salary cap (just like the NBA and NFL have…..and also force the teams to spend within $10M of it or else get heavily penalized)
        US fans are tired of the Reds sucking

      • Doug Gray

        The players make less money today than they have in a very, very long time. I’ll state it again for anyone who missed: The players today are only getting 39% of baseball revenues. They used to get 51%. The players deserve MORE MONEY, not less.

        What baseball needs is better revenue sharing situations, and a salary floor. They don’t need a salary cap. All a salary cap will do is make the owners of the Cubs, Yankees and Dodgers hundreds of millions of extra dollars while doing nothing for the Reds or Brewers of the world. Or the players.

  11. Piggly Wiggly

    It will be interesting to see how the Reds do as minor league team owners now with the new rookie team in Greenville.
    In an ideal world, minor league owners could create a complex near their stadiums that has housing. A small apartment complex of about 15-20 apartments, two players per apartment or single apartments with players with families. In that complex would be a main hall that has a place for catered breakfasts and lunches. After breakfast , in separate rooms would be classrooms for the players for language skills. Latino players learning English. American players learning Spanish. This might become even more important with a looming international draft. A money and financial class would be there for all players. A nutrition class would be available. After class it is lunch time in the Main Hall. Then time to report to the ballpark. Now then, the minor league team owners should then be re-imbursed by the Major League team for the monthly rent on the players apartments. They should be re-imbursed for classes and hiring of instructors for these classes, and they should be re-imbursed for all 3 meals provided with the third meal at the stadium. You can’t take the complex on the road with you, but it would be a good set up for home games. A different type of regiment would have to be used on the road, but a similar one could be used from the hotels teams stay at.
    With the Major League teams footing the bill for all of this, through their minor league owners and affiliations, it could supplement for the low salaries. I’d still like to see a graduated salary scale for the minor leagues. $15,000 per year for A level ball and lower, $20,000 for A+, $25,000 for AA, and $30,000 for AAA. Earn an increase with a promotion.
    Something for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement after 2021.

  12. Krozley

    Why not reduce the number of minor league teams. Go down to one “A” league and one domestic rookie league and retain just the better players that actually have a shot at making the bigs. Reduce the draft to 20 or 25 rounds. Pay the players that remain a much higher salary and then have some sort of free off-season school that trains them in a trade for their post-baseball life along with continued baseball instruction.

    • Doug Gray

      Generally, you want more teams, not less. The reason being that you get that extra chance of producing someone. And at the prices paid out right now for minor leaguers, if you can just find one extra guy every few years that may have just been cut loose with lesser teams 5 years before, you come out WAY ahead over paying for that kind of guy in free agency. It’s worth millions of dollars in surplus.

  13. Kurt Steigerwald

    I agree the McDonald’s comparison is a very bad one. People take internships/ crew on yachts/ make peanuts as Graduate Assistants/ go through residency to become a Dr. for either an unbelievable life experience or to further their career. How many wealthy ski instructors have y’all met? I don’t see ML ball being any different. It’s not typical that 18-24 year kids make that much anyway. If they do become like a razor shines they get paid a decent amount for 8 months of work.

    If I was 21 year old kid with 3 years of college I would jump at the chance to play minor league ball for peanuts. Can you believe the life experiences that you would get out of just playing a game. As an employer, I would be damn impressed if I interviewed a guy with Milb experience. It tells me that he is passionate/dedicated and a hard worker. Something college degrees don’t reveal. I would believe they would have a leg up in their post baseball profession. So no I don’t pity them, I envy them. I cant believe they get paid to play a game for a few years.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s real easy to say that. It’s a lot different to live it.

      Go through your bills. Let me know how you could do on $1400 a month.

  14. LeRoy

    Good job Doug. This needs to be addressed by the major league teams. With the current system there are players who are well below the poverty level playing with some players who have signed multi-million dollar bonus contracts. It’s a very unfair system and needs to be addressed and improved.

  15. Brad

    Evan Longoria return seems very light. Time for Reds to go shopping for Yelich and/or Archer.

    • Colorado Red

      I would rather go for Archer.
      However, different team.
      How would this affect the Billy trade (proposed) to the Giants.
      I think this kills it. (no Romos from the Giants)
      And not one else we would want.

    • Wes

      Seems like market value to me. Opens up a trade route with Rays too. They need infielders! Although I slightly lean Snell since you get an extra year of control and he’s younger. Archer has an an amazing contract! He’ll be 34 at end of though.

      Robert Stephenson

      That should get it done for either guy….

  16. Stock

    I have no problem with their pay at all. I have 3 points 2 of which have been stated previously to some degree.

    It sounds like these players are being guaranteed $9,000 with the prospect of much more if they prove their worth (millions if the make it to the majors). Compare that to a business owner. Since everyone knows this website is Doug’s business it is a great example. Especially early on Doug has to work hard to maintain this website and his hourly wage was not enough. He had to have a side job because he was making next to nothing here. Why did he continue? You have to ask him but I think a large part of it is that he loves this job. Other than being a pro athlete this may be his dream job (again I am not assuming this is true but feel for most struggling business owners this is true). The second thing was that even though early on he could not make a living off this site his dream was that someday he could make an acceptable living. Maybe even some day make a good living. I am sure he has never had dreams of making $1 million a year but $100,000 isn’t peanuts. In short, most business owners trade in short term income in the hopes of long term happiness. This is exactly what these minor league player choose to do.

    Second I have 3 children in college this year. They put in 40 hours a week studying and going to class. However, they get paid nothing for their efforts. In fact most students have to pay the school 10-15 grand a year for the right to attend classes. They do this for the same reason major league baseball players do it. They think this is their best chance at a career of their choosing. They pay for their education with money and time. A minor league baseball player is going to a different school and getting a different education but he is learning nonetheless. And instead of paying for it he gets paid. And the chances of a minor league player eventually making $1 million a year is much greater than the chances of a college student doing so. When I used to work for a company the mail room was full of college graduates who lived at home because their student debt was more than they could manage based upon their income. These college graduates may be in the minority but the point is there are decisions to be made and one must be willing to make the commitment and potentially sacrifice short term financial security no matter what path you choose.

    Third look at the bonus’ these players are getting. only 7-9 of the players drafted had signing bonus’ of less than $100,000. $10,000 a year plus 25,000 of bonus money should be enough to survive a year and follow your dream. You give yourself 4 years and see what you can make of it. 3 players signed for $50,000-$83,000. Maybe these three make a decision after 3 years. 4 signed for peanuts. Several of these were college seniors so they had the opportunity (assuming they put time in to make sure they graduated) to pursue much more money in the non-baseball workforce. But they didn’t. They want to follow their dream. Good for them. But don’t expect others to sacrifice for you just so you can follow your dream. If a $10,000 signing bonus plus $10,000 in salary isn’t enough for you then why did you sign? You decided this was enough so live with it. If not don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way to the real world.

    Remember this is a career path they choose and they should have known the financial implications of this path before they started their journey. And based upon last year’s signings at least 17 or the 23 who signed with the Reds are making good money the next 3 years if you include their signing bonus.

    • Doug Gray

      Here’s the difference: My skill and their skill are very different. And they aren’t business owners. Yes, both sides have outcomes of more down the road – but that’s literally every job that has ever existed.

      $10,000 a year, plus a $25,000 signing bonus is enough? Well, that signing bonus isn’t right into your bank. Your agent gets his cut. Uncle Sam gets his cut, too. And you aren’t making $10,000 a year in the minors until you reach Double-A.

      The main point is simple, though: The MLB owners are using some weird law to avoid paying minimum wage. And it’s ridiculous.

      Also, you know better than to avoid the swear filter. Do better.

      • victor vollhardt

        Choices are made and as long as you know what the system is —then whatever you decide is right for you. There is no such thing as an “entitlement” at any level of life. We as a society wrestle with this train of thought every day—and it is right that baseball does too. One major difference— baseball sets it’s pay scales on experience and skill level results—so their gaps between pay levels is very pronounced. EVERYONE has equal rights, but everyday life shows you that everyone is not equal. Baseball is a very public business with its stats and salaries out in the open.. Baseball proves life’s successes and failures every day. Some real good guys get cut and some real bad eggs get paid big —Why? their stat sheet. Life works this way also–it is just not so public.

      • Stock

        I agree there are several differences.

        1. Someone who starts a business is guaranteed zero and usually has to finance his business to get it off the ground. A baseball player has no such obligation.

        Advantage minor league baseball player.

        2. Most business owners who succeed hope to make $75,000 – $100,000 a year. A minor league baseball player who succeeds will make millions.

        Advantage minor league baseball player.

        3. Minor league baseball players really don’t work that hard. You are fooling yourself if you think they consider what they do work. They get paid to play baseball. I play baseball and basketball too. Difference is I don’t get paid. To increase their chance to make it to the show they hit in the cage. I go out and shoot. None of this is work to me and I am sure they enjoy it too.

        Exactly what is their work schedule for the day.

        1 hour infield and batting practice before the game.
        1 hour in the cage while other team is taking infield (some days for some players).
        1.5 hours exercise (lifting, running or whatever to maintain physical fitness)
        2.5 hours playing a game.
        1 hour reviewing tapes (this is probably very generous).
        3 hour workout on non game days.

        Assuming 6 games a week that totals to a 45 hour work week. If you discount the exercise portion it is a 35 hour work week.

        That is not even an 8 hour work day and 2 – 3 hours (minimum) are doing things most people do and don’t consider it work. I know I don’t bill someone for my time working out. When I didn’t own a company I didn’t consider my workout part of my 8 – 9 hour day.

        If the players didn’t agree they would not keep coming back.

      • JPhillips


        1 Baseball players are at much higher risk for career ending injuries than the average business owner. They are literally using their bodies as collateral.

        2 A small percentage of players will make millions. A small percentage of business owners will make millions or billions. The middle class business owner you create should have a parallel among minor league players.

        3 I love my job, should I not get paid? That’s not how employment works. Tasks are assigned and workers complete tasks. In that sense baseball is like any other business.

        There’s no demand for minor leaguers to be guaranteed wealth. The argument is for the same labor laws that apply to McDonalds to apply to MiLB.

  17. RobL

    Wow… Just wow.

    A few things

    Stock you rough added up that a baseball player’s work week counts over 40 hrs. Under the law, that would entitle a worker to overtime pay. You also say that working out is generously included, because people work out anyway. However, people can decline to work out and not lose their job. It is a job when it is mandatory. Whether you feel that the work is demanding is not important. It is time that is demanded of you. It is a job.

    Businesses will cut every corner they can. That is why labor laws had to be enacted. Because businesses will take advantage of people. The minimum wage, child labor, and the 40 hour work week were not just created for no reason.

    And MLB is no different. They have found a way to no pay people a minimum wage. I am not surprised that some feel that “they know what they signed up for.” I am sure 16 year old Dominican kids know exactly what is in store for them when they sign that $10,000 contract, that they only see part of.

    And Doug, good luck getting the courts to do something. The newest guy on the supreme court ruled that a guy was justly fired for deciding he didn’t want to freeze to death.

    • Shamrock

      Working out is completely optional
      Of course, if you don’t workout then you probably won’t have a job next year
      but No, I agree with Stock, you shouldn’t get paid for exercising

      • RobL

        If you are told to run and lift weights by your boss, that is part of your job. So, no, it’s not optional. It I not a side thing. So, if your work makes you do something, yes you get paid for it.

    • Earmbrister

      Rob, thanks for saying what I was too Po’d to say. Those that complain that ticket prices might increase are probably the same people who worry that their Big Mac might cost more if the workers were paid a living wage (and also are happy to complain when their fast food order comes back wrong). Screw the worker’s need to provide for their family, I said no tomato on my burger! Hey, no one “forces” people to work at MacDonalds. Screw ‘em, let them work 3 jobs. And why aren’t they supervising their kids in their “spare time”? “Animals “.

      Reminds me of that scofflaw rancher, with his armed resistance, who offered up that the slaves didn’t know how good they had it (they were fed and had a roof over their heads).

      Some “humans” are pathetic.

    • Stock

      Well said Shamrock. The only thing required is probably 24 hours a week for 30 weeks a year about 720 hours. That alone comes to $12.50 an hour, which is above minimum wage. How can the courts rule in the player’s favor. Ignore the signing bonus. You could add 14 hours a week in the off-season and you are still at $9 an hour. That assumes 2 weeks off somewhere which is less than they really take. Additionally I think the players understand that there are perks to being a baseball player.

      Important thing is they are following their dream. Enough of them do it that it must be worth it or MLB would have to increase the salaries. Simple law of supply and demand.

      There is a reason the court will never rule in favor of the players. It goes against everything this country stands for.

      • Doug Gray

        The only reason the court hasn’t ruled in their favor is because MLB has some insane anti-trust exemption. Minimum wage is literally something this country stands for. In fact, many Americans actually died over it.

  18. Kurt s

    I suppose we need to pay aspiring actors/ writers/ artists minimum wage and give them over time for perfecting their craft.

    And yes, the Big Mac will go up if the labor prices go up or perhaps,if not, to your glee earmbrister, the McDonald’s will go out of business. How many non immigrant 35 year olds work as cashier at McDonald’s. People move up or on with experience. Side note. In and out burger pays high school kids ( in Texas) 12 an hour to start. These kids are the cleanest cut ( neat hair, no tattoos, non-obese, hard working) and sharpest kids I have ever seen work fast food. However, In and Out burger pays for a higher level of productivity to make up for the increased wages. Not sure all fast food places could do that.