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Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Giants minor leaguer posts paycheck to highlight how little MiLB players make per year

San Francisco Giants reliever Tyler Cyr is fighting to make it to the majors. After being selected in the 10th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball draft, Cyr worked his way up to Triple-A in 2019.

While Cyr has moved closer to his dream every season, those minor-league promotions haven’t come with big pay increases. To show just how little minor-league baseball players make per season, Cyr posted a picture of his paycheck on Twitter on Monday.

...

Cyr felt compelled to post that picture after seeing a tweet about Minnesota Twins reliever Randy Dobnak. The 24-year-old Dobnak caught national attention after pitching against the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series. During spring training — before he had reached the majors — Dobnak drove an Uber to make ends.

The 26-year-old Cyr said he wasn’t sure whether Dobnak’s story should be viewed as “cool or embarrassing.” Cyr tagged both @MLB and @MiLB in his tweet to get the point across. That inspired him to post a thread about minor-league pay.

We’ve discussed the finances of the game at the major-league level quite a bit lately- here’s something involving it at AA and AAA.

 

QLE Posted: October 08, 2019 at 12:28 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dollah dollah bills, y'all, minor leaguers, salaries

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: October 08, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5887964)
In general, I find it distasteful to publicly complain about salary. It's a free country. There are many jobs that obviously pay better and have better career trajectories than minor league baseball player.

A few things:

- Clearly, this is not a 12-month salary.
- Players have lots of catered meals, plus per diem on the road.
- According to Forbes, MLB covers 100% of health insurance premiums for the players and about 75% for dependents.
- MLB gives a $50,000 life insurance benefit to minor leaguers.
- Service-time dependent pension plans.
- In the lower levels, many players are housed with sponsors (i.e. no rent).
- Players do not pay for travel expenses.

So there are a lot of fringe benefits not accounted for in that direct deposit. On the other hand, baseball if flush with cash and should do a better job of compensating its minor leaguers. What's more likely, I think, is a slow contraction of minor league franchises.
   2. Tom was totally clowned by CW Posted: October 08, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5887990)
Yes that is the total for 12 months, Almost all of it at AA.

The pay is spread over 6 months, not 12, and AA salary is well under $2k a month.
   3. . Posted: October 08, 2019 at 05:51 PM (#5888068)
That's all he's worth. How much does he make as compared to, say, the comparably ranked pro tennis player?
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 08, 2019 at 06:07 PM (#5888074)
Realistically, there's only two ways this is going to change: 1) the minor leaguers unionize, which is very hard with a transient workforce, or 2) a bunch of these guys just quit and get on with their lives.

If teams started losing three or four of their top-50 prospects each year because they walk away over the money, I bet we'd see salaries rise.
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: October 08, 2019 at 06:12 PM (#5888077)
It's what the market will bear. As an adjunct and soon-to-be hourly retail worker, I have no patience for this. All three of those jobs are similar in that the demand for the job is higher than the demand for people to fill it. Is it nice? No. Is it good? No. But there's nothing special about it.
   6. GregD Posted: October 08, 2019 at 06:19 PM (#5888081)
- Players have lots of catered meals, plus per diem on the road.
Doesn't the article say the Giants are unusual in covering the costs of home meals and that most organizations charge them for catering in the dugout whether they eat it or not?

It's what the market will bear. As an adjunct and soon-to-be hourly retail worker, I have no patience for this. All three of those jobs are similar in that the demand for the job is higher than the demand for people to fill it. Is it nice? No. Is it good? No. But there's nothing special about it.
The particular iteration of market/government interaction, you mean. Other iterations of market/government interaction produce different salaries for the range of jobs you mention. Of course people in high-supply, low-demand jobs never get wealthy unless they are superlative (or lucky) but with different arrangements they can easily be earning a living wage and not working odd jobs to pay the bills.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 08, 2019 at 07:27 PM (#5888092)
The particular iteration of market/government interaction, you mean. Other iterations of market/government interaction produce different salaries for the range of jobs you mention. Of course people in high-supply, low-demand jobs never get wealthy unless they are superlative (or lucky) but with different arrangements they can easily be earning a living wage and not working odd jobs to pay the bills.

And we should care about facilitating those different arrangements if the jobs they do are necessary to the general welfare. If janitors can't afford to live in your city, and disappear, that would be very bad for the cleanliness of public buildings.

But minor league baseball players are pretty much completely unnecessary, except to the teams that employ them. If half of them quit and go on to doing something else, no one suffers except their employers.
   8. Howie Menckel Posted: October 08, 2019 at 07:54 PM (#5888098)
How much does he make as compared to, say, the comparably ranked pro tennis player?

with the ATP Tour season about over, 45 players have won $1M or more.

103 have won $500,000.
164 have won $250,000 (Grand Slam have or used to have 128-player draws including a few wild cards and some qualifying spots. so a player who just barely earns direct entry is making close to $500,000. might be fair to call them the "major leaguers" but ymmv).

271 have made $100,000.

iirc, tennis players are basically independent contractors unlike players, so they bear the expense burden. a player who earns $100K is not making much of a living, given travel, trainer, food, and other expenses.
   9. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 08, 2019 at 07:56 PM (#5888099)
Several sources say Cyr got a 100k bonus in 2015. The 306th pick in the draft.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: October 08, 2019 at 08:21 PM (#5888108)
Doesn't basically every pro tennis player have some sort of endorsement deal(s) such that at least they're not paying for their equipment. (Heck, I've ridden with unknown cyclists who don't pay for their own bikes/shoes/etc.)

But yes, I'd imagine the lower ranks of the tennis world are barely scraping by. Same with cyclists, etc. It is unfortunately true that many of these guys, especially the HS draftees and Latin American signings, have no good job prospects. Reasons to take education seriously and bypass the minors for college unless you're getting a good bonus (and/or a free education after you retire) and then take college seriously. I'd imagine the college dratees do have a pretty high attrition rate -- give it a go for a couple of years, maybe just for kicks, get on with your life when it doesn't work out. Guy at my small college eons ago was a very, very late draft pick and he didn't even bother.

Having made AAA, Cyr is presumably a guy with a shot. One day and he's got health insurance ... 43 days (or whatever) and he's got a pension ... half a year and he's got over $250,000 (minus taxes, etc.). If he got an actual marketable degree (his alma mater certainly wants you to think all of their degrees are marketable), this gamble might be worth it for him.

His alma mater Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University "considers itself one of the top aviation and aerospace schools in America." I consider myself a very stable genius. I kid, per US News rankings, etc. they appear to be pretty solid -- why they have a baseball team I have no idea.
   11. McCoy Posted: October 08, 2019 at 08:41 PM (#5888115)
He went to college and he's currently got a job that will get him a chance to interview for a lot of jobs. Plus he's got pretty good chance of hitting the Major league lottery.

I get paid more than he does but at no time have i ever had the chance, however remote, of winning the employment lottery that he can hit. If he wants to make more money he can he just has to give up the chance of hitting it big in the majors.

That he didn't give it up in Junior high or high school is nice but it doesnt mean much.
   12. Traderdave Posted: October 09, 2019 at 12:39 AM (#5888175)
A buddy of mine has a son in high A ball. He's really hoping to make AA next year. He's with a very good organization that has a rep among players for taking better care of players than most others.

I asked him about making it on minor league pay. He didn't give specs but he said the host family and the per diems make it "survivable, but barely." A lot of players spend much of their pocket money on GNC or other sports food, plus decent restaurant food when they are tired of cut rate crap. He said a single guy in his 20's can scrape by if he has a backstop, like family to hit up for a grand or two here and there, or an off season hustle and free room & board with mom & dad, or maybe a signing bonus he banked and can tap if need be. Somebody with dependents will be desperate, he said.

This is probably quite different for high draft choices who got large signing bonuses. My friend's son got $125k which he has invested and not tapped. My buddy says he'd rather backstop him as needed than draw down that nest egg.
   13. . Posted: October 09, 2019 at 07:34 AM (#5888185)
271 have made $100,000


Cyr's tennis equivalent "rank" is what -- 1,500 or so? The 1,500th ranked ATP tour player probably doesn't even make more than his expenses.
   14. bunyon Posted: October 09, 2019 at 09:04 AM (#5888195)
And we should care about facilitating those different arrangements if the jobs they do are necessary to the general welfare. If janitors can't afford to live in your city, and disappear, that would be very bad for the cleanliness of public buildings.

But minor league baseball players are pretty much completely unnecessary, except to the teams that employ them. If half of them quit and go on to doing something else, no one suffers except their employers.


Exactly. We have a real problem in the USA with businesses not paying their employees enough to live. Too much money flows toward the top. That problem exists in baseball, as well, but really isn't a social problem for the many reasons outlined above. Basically, minor league baseball is a gamble. The player spends a few years making peanuts on the chance he'll make millions. Almost all will lose but, if they have any sense, they'll know they've lost in plenty of time to move into other fields with decent income. Well, livable income anyway. They'll be right back in the boat with the majority of Americans not being paid as much as they should be. But that's a different issue.
   15. Rusty Priske Posted: October 09, 2019 at 09:20 AM (#5888199)
The fact that people are defending this boggles my mind.
   16. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: October 09, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5888204)
The fact that people are defending this boggles my mind.
Srsly. I feel like I've stumbled into the comments of National Review or something.
   17. Karl from NY Posted: October 09, 2019 at 10:19 AM (#5888207)
The fact that people are defending this boggles my mind.

Capitalism. The supply of minor league baseball labor is way greater than the market demand.
   18. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 09, 2019 at 10:42 AM (#5888221)
Cyr's tennis equivalent "rank" is what -- 1,500 or so? The 1,500th ranked ATP tour player probably doesn't even make more than his expenses.


The 1500th ranked ATP Tour player can probably make a decent living as a club pro who does tournaments on the side.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 09, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5888247)
The fact that people are defending this boggles my mind.

Does anyone care that aspiring actors and singers can't make a living in their field, and have to tend bar and wait tables? Why is this any different?

These minor leaguers, just like the actors and singers, have decided to play lotto with the first 10 years of their working life. They're playing a low probability, huge payout game, and hoping to win. They all have the choice not to play, and get regular jobs.

I feel really bad for people toiling in factories and retail making $12/hr and struggling to get by. I don't feel bad at all for people who want to chase celebrity and riches.
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: October 09, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5888250)
Does anyone care that aspiring actors and singers can't make a living in their field, and have to tend bar and wait tables? Why is this any different?
Maybe it's not different. But if actors take jobs, don't they get paid real wages? It seems like the equivalent of a struggling actor is a ballplayer who is going around to tryouts but not getting signed. Or getting signed but then cut really soon.
   21. cookiedabookie Posted: October 09, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5888261)
Rookie - $30,000 minimum salary
Low-A - $35,000 minimum salary
Single-A - $40,000 minimum salary
Double-A - $45,000 minimum salary
Triple-A - $50,000 minimum salary

Teams can afford to do this, and it's the right/smart thing to do from a player development perspective.
   22. Traderdave Posted: October 09, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5888266)
Does anyone care that aspiring actors and singers can't make a living in their field, and have to tend bar and wait tables? Why is this any different?

These minor leaguers, just like the actors and singers, have decided to play lotto with the first 10 years of their working life. They're playing a low probability, huge payout game, and hoping to win. They all have the choice not to play, and get regular jobs.

I feel really bad for people toiling in factories and retail making $12/hr and struggling to get by. I don't feel bad at all for people who want to chase celebrity and riches.


I generally agree with this sentiment, and believe, as you probably do, that teams shouldn't be forced to raise salaries. At the same time, though, I think spending lot more on minor leaguers would be a sound business decision. "Spending a lot more" means more than salary, it means higher per diems, more comfortable travel, better housing, more & better medical & training staff, etc. A franchise's minor league affiliates' stated purpose is player development. Couch surfing in the off season and living on bologna sandwiches and spending a zillion hours on uncomfortable buses doesn't do much for development.
   23. bunyon Posted: October 09, 2019 at 01:30 PM (#5888321)
I'm not defending it. I just have a limited amount of outrage and this is about 8876th on the list today.

I'd be fine with 21's proposal and agree it would be sound business. I'd also be fine if MiLBers went on strike (though it would be stupid at an individual level for them to do so).

When we've gotten workers who are more critical for society up to a living wage, we can work on MiLB. If MiLB players take care of it, first, fine.
   24. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: October 09, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5888328)
I think salaries should be higher than they are, because they are so, so very low. On a per hour basis (if we look at hours when they have to be at the park, versus game times), this is well below minimum wage.

Otherwise, this isn't the pool of workers I'm most concerned about either, for reasons covered here, but that doesn't mean I can't be concerned for them as well!
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 09, 2019 at 01:56 PM (#5888332)
I think salaries should be higher than they are, because they are so, so very low. On a per hour basis (if we look at hours when they have to be at the park, versus game times), this is well below minimum wage.


milB should absolutely NOT have an exception to the minimum wage. That I agree with.
   26. Traderdave Posted: October 09, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5888334)
Minimum wage is hourly. Would that mean the clock runs 24/7 on a road trip?
   27. Cowboy Popup Posted: October 09, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5888335)
Capitalism. The supply of minor league baseball labor is way greater than the market demand.

A lot of these guys are drafted. Capitalism has absolutely nothing to do with this, at least not until a player's first contract expires.
   28. bunyon Posted: October 09, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5888337)
Minimum wage is hourly. Would that mean the clock runs 24/7 on a road trip?

IANAFL but these guys are salaried. Thus, I don't think minimum wage applies. Certainly if you count travel time as hours worked, a whole lot of folks are going to be asking for that. Salesmen may triple their pay.
   29. caspian88 Posted: October 09, 2019 at 02:13 PM (#5888342)
Unless the travel is the work, I don't believe you have to be paid for it. If you paid baseball players hourly, I believe you have to pay them for hours they are required to be at the workplace working (so the game, pre-game warmups, maybe some media time, practices, etc.). This would probably work out to at least 6 hours a day.

I'm not sure about the actual travel time (on the bus), but you don't get paid for sleep even when you're on employer-mandated travel. My employer pays for 8 hours per travel day, but we're pretty unusual in many respects.
   30. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: October 09, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5888351)
I'm not sure about the actual travel time (on the bus), but you don't get paid for sleep even when you're on employer-mandated travel.


Yes, but what minimum wage jobs require so much travel and so much time away from home?
   31. Sit down, Sleepy has lots of stats Posted: October 09, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5888363)
His alma mater Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University "considers itself one of the top aviation and aerospace schools in America." I consider myself a very stable genius. I kid,
Yes, Embry-Riddle has a very solid reputation especially for people in flight test type jobs.

My company pays salaried workers for travel time, plus per firm and lodging, but at the end of the week if you charge more than 40 hours your hourly rate goes down, unless you’re on a certain contract type that allows more.
   32. . Posted: October 09, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5888364)
Does anyone care that aspiring actors and singers can't make a living in their field, and have to tend bar and wait tables? Why is this any different?

These minor leaguers, just like the actors and singers, have decided to play lotto with the first 10 years of their working life. They're playing a low probability, huge payout game, and hoping to win. They all have the choice not to play, and get regular jobs.

I feel really bad for people toiling in factories and retail making $12/hr and struggling to get by. I don't feel bad at all for people who want to chase celebrity and riches.


Precisely and exactly, exactly and precisely. Like all/most of us in our early-mid 20s, these guys are trying to postpone or eliminate the time when they become office or sales drones, and only a very, very few lucky people get to do that.

I would venture, though, that the Actors and Writers Guilds do better by their 1,000th and 2,000th best performers than the Baseball Guild, but that's an empirical question.
   33. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 09, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5888404)
IANAFL but these guys are salaried. Thus, I don't think minimum wage applies. Certainly if you count travel time as hours worked, a whole lot of folks are going to be asking for that. Salesmen may triple their pay.

Per the Dept. of Labor, you need to earn at least $684/week in salary to be exempt from minimum wage.
   34. Tom was totally clowned by CW Posted: October 10, 2019 at 01:21 AM (#5888709)
Yeah Snapper, except Congress passed an exception for Baseball.

The reality here is that the low salaries filter out a significant part of the population. Low income and inner city American kids have a much greater challenge doing what they need to do to advance. So you end up with the players advancing either being suburban kids who go home to their families in the off season, or latin american kids for whom that small salary is still greater than anything they could get at home. And yes this does not effect the top players, but the decision process happens before they become a top prospect, when they give up baseball in HS because an inner city kid has no chance.

If MLB is really serious about being more diverse, and attracting people from all backgrounds then it really does start in the lowest level of the minors.
   35. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: October 10, 2019 at 01:42 AM (#5888712)
[34] It isn't all about the salaries though. There are 200 players a year who get $200k signing bonuses! By comparison, there are only 60 players a year who even get drafted in the NBA.

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