Exploitation, Plain & Simple – MLB Wants MiLB to Remain Unpaid for Spring Work

2-12-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

As the labor battle rages on between MLB and the MLBPA, it’s easy to ignore the very real uprising taking place in the Minor Leagues who still have no union representation.

Recently, the Supreme Court allowed a nearly decade old filing of a class action suit where MiLB players want MLB to pay players for participating in Spring Training among other things like paying overtime and arguing against fixed salaries.

It’s been an issue for quite some time and finally MLB is forced to at least address it because this case is going forward now and is set to meet in court on June 1st.

Look at that quote.

I’ll add some context here, MLB has determined that each and every player costs the parent franchise 2,200 dollars per week. They make this argument because they aren’t employees and while I get they could technically, legally even, be right, this would be like your boss telling you that because the company pays for electricity and gas and the general infrastructure costs of owning a business, you can’t get paid.

Now, I get accused of being pro owner quite often, but as I explained the other day, I’m pro fan and I see both sides of everything so I can call BS when I see something and you won’t believe it comes from an overt bias.

This is one of those times. This is nothing short of exploitation.

These guys don’t need to make a ton, they don’t even need to make what they make playing the regular season (which isn’t much either) but to simply say no, well, I’ll just say this, it’s not ALL Scott Boras convincing players that the owners don’t have their best interests in mind. It’s every one of them having been put through the ringer on their way to the league. Then underpaid in many cases once they make it, with nothing more than the hope an owner might, out of nothing more than the kindness of their own hearts, pay them more for overperforming.

It created bitterness between Gerrit Cole and the Pirates and today sticks with him as the Boras client sits on the board of player representatives.

The league is a mess, and it starts from the time these kids are signed. Even 3rd or 4th round picks are expected to live on a bonus for 3-4 years before making the league and earning the league minimum for 3-4 more.

This is something the league could address, and if it’s approached well, maybe they could actually start to change the feelings of future union members. They do themselves no favors here.

See this isn’t an argument about competitive balance, or one team being able to pay triple the payroll as another, this is about simply not seeing an entire group of people, who are the literal future of your game as expendable assets.

It’s about asking for unwavering dedication to one’s craft, while not paying what many could make at McDonalds.

It’s not just about the owners either, cause while players like Gerrit Cole hold onto the bitterness of his young career, he actually had it better than most. The MLBPA has for decades now given away everything they could for these guys. In other words, they remember, but they by in large haven’t remembered that nobody in their brotherhood fought for them when they were in that position.

Sure, they’re saying some of the right things now, so are owners, but watch when this final deal is done, there’ll be one group that got next to nothing, young players and MiLB players.

At some point, this organization is going to lose one of these lawsuits and have it taken out of their hands, but if I’m the league, man I take the opportunity to make this stuff right on my own.

It’s a constant trickle of terrible. Players sleeping in vans, not able to afford proper nutrition, or even equipment. Forget off season training. They can’t even collect unemployment when they aren’t playing. The average MiLB players makes between $8,000 and $14,000 per season. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but I made more than that when I was 15 years old. Hell, I make more than that for my once a week Podcast.

Again, we’re in an environment where I completely get there are bigger issues, but taking care of these players would solve a bunch of problems. One, it’s just the right thing to do, and yes that’s the most important one. It could also help solve a problem they’ve faced for years, young athletes simply aren’t interested in dealing with poverty on their way to potential greatness and great pay in almost a decade. If you play 2 sports in high school, say baseball and football and you could legitimately pursue either path, which one would you pick? I mean right now, Jaxon Smith-Njigba is in college at Ohio State as a prolific wide receiver, his brother Canaan is projected to be a AAA outfielder for the Pirates. If everything goes great for Canaan he’ll make the league in 2022 and by 2026 he’ll be into arbitration where he will finally make millions. Jaxon will play another season of NCAA football and cash in the following season.

That’s the diperity. That’s the reality. And more than anything, it’s why MLB shouldn’t wait to lose a lawsuit to address it. They certainly can’t be paying every kid in MiLB millions, but they can take care of the obvious and make it a livable wage situation at the very least.

To be blunt, it’s disappointing they need to be told to do so.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

2 thoughts on “Exploitation, Plain & Simple – MLB Wants MiLB to Remain Unpaid for Spring Work

  1. The situation in the Minors is awful. At least MLB has finally stepped up and agreed to provide food and housing. There is so much about this environment I don’t know. Do the minor league owners have any obligation here? How do minor leaguers get paid? When they are promoted do they get some prorated portion of the higher salary? When they get added to the active roster do they get some prorated amount of the MLB minimum for the rest of the year? Totally agree that MLB should step up and take care of these guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If they’re called up to MLB they get MLB minimum for the time they’re up. The minor league owners primarily are in charge of facilities and environment but have nothing to do with the players or coaches or salaries.


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