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Monday, September 17, 2018

Minor league baseball players exploring union as they continue to battle low wages

I call bullshit.

“In terms of the minor league guys, we try to do as much as we possibly can for them, but obviously it’s a major league union at this point,” said Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, a member of the MLBPA executive board. “That’s what we focus on. It’s not like we leave them out. We try to set them up so that, when they come to this level, they’re in the best position possible.”

MLBPA should look to add AA and AAA players to the union. Bump up their minimum salaries, especially those on the 40-Man. Give these players fractional service time (say 50% in AAA and 33% in AA). This will help those players financially and will also help with service time problems.

Jim Furtado Posted: September 17, 2018 at 10:12 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor league pay

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:30 PM (#5745755)
MLBPA should look to add AA and AAA players to the union. Bump up their minimum salaries, especially those on the 40-Man. Give these players fractional service time (say 50% in AAA and 33% in AA). This will help those players financially and will also help with service time problems.

Wouldn't this just lead to teams keeping their elite prospects in A ball until they were ready for the bigs? You'd probably see an inversion in quality; i.e. A ball would be better than AA or AAA.
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 17, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5745781)
MLBPA should look to add AA and AAA players to the union. Bump up their minimum salaries, especially those on the 40-Man. Give these players fractional service time (say 50% in AAA and 33% in AA). This will help those players financially and will also help with service time problems.

It might also give multi-sport high school athletes a bit more incentive to choose baseball over a college football or basketball scholarship, which as it stands is a hell of a lot more valuable than anything baseball is offering to all but its top level amateurs.
   3. McCoy Posted: September 18, 2018 at 08:05 AM (#5746279)
Because that is causing a huge talent drain.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 18, 2018 at 09:17 AM (#5746299)
It might also give multi-sport high school athletes a bit more incentive to choose baseball over a college football or basketball scholarship, which as it stands is a hell of a lot more valuable than anything baseball is offering to all but its top level amateurs.

This is about the 147th biggest problem baseball faces. It shouldn't even be a factor in the decision making process.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: September 18, 2018 at 09:20 AM (#5746301)
Can minor league players unionize? Or are their jobs too tenuous to organize it?
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 18, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5746326)
Can minor league players unionize? Or are their jobs too tenuous to organize it?

I think the major problem is the difference among the minor leaguers themselves. Unions work best with very uniform groups, where equality of performance and pay makes sense.

In the minors, you have at least four very distinct groups.

1) The bonus babies: top draft picks and international signees who've already made $500G-#4M in bonuses. They are highly valued by the teams, and their milb pay probably doesn't matter much to them. Getting to the bigs matters a lot.

2) Veterans with some MLB experience. The guys that stock the AAA clubs as in season replacements for injuries/suckage. They already get paid decently ($50G-$100G IIRC), and mostly care about MLB opportunity, and service time towards pensions and benefits.

3) The completely fungible bottom 50%. The roster filler. The guys who are only there b/c teams don't have prospects at every position for 6 or 7 milb teams. These guys are chasing a long shot. The teams would be perfectly happy to get rid of all of them if they get expensive.

4) Real prospects who weren't top signs. These guys have real value to the teams, as a lot of MLB regulars and stars come from this group. They want a shot to play and advance. They could really use the higher salary.

The issue as I see it is that groups 1 and 2 are doing fine currently. Group 4 is who you'd really like to help, but anything that raises their comp significantly likely causes the teams to jettison group 3 by cutting the number of teams. But in a union structure, Group 3 has lots of votes.

   7. DL from MN Posted: September 18, 2018 at 11:23 AM (#5746422)
The MLBPA does (or should) represent players who are on the 40 man roster and they represent any player who has spent a day on a major league roster. Many minor league players fall into those two categories.

The MLBPA might have a better chance of improving minor league working conditions than pay, especially at lower levels. If they can get the team to provide 3 nutritious meals a day during the season and good training facilities year round for minor leaguers both the teams and the minor leaguers will benefit. They should also require a higher minimum minor league salary for players who have MLB experience. Those players are in the union.

Beyond that the MLBPA should be negotiating a higher minimum salary.

Look at these charts

https://www.statista.com/statistics/256187/minimum-salary-of-players-in-major-league-baseball/
https://www.statista.com/statistics/236213/mean-salaray-of-players-in-majpr-league-baseball/

Average salary has doubled between 2004 and 2018. Minimum salary is only up 85%. They should target $1M and accept $800k for the new minimum salary. The chart also suggests that minor league salaries should be roughly 2x what they were in 2004 and I really doubt that is the case.

   8. Jim Furtado Posted: September 20, 2018 at 10:31 AM (#5748015)
Average salary has doubled between 2004 and 2018. Minimum salary is only up 85%. They should target $1M and accept $800k for the new minimum salary. The chart also suggests that minor league salaries should be roughly 2x what they were in 2004 and I really doubt that is the case.

This. If they increase the minimum pay, make AA and AAA players associate members with higher minimum pay *with* partial service time, MLB players be helping themselves and their minor league close cousins. Except for a fairly small bump for the lower levels, I'd be afraid to increase team costs much higher because it would probably push teams to shrink the size of their lower levels, which would then provide fewer opportunities for aspiring players. I know some have suggested this would push development toward colleges. I'm not so sure that would work. Most colleges provide relatively few scholarships to its baseball teams. Most marginal players, especially those who aren't good students, would get hurt, not helped.
   9. Zonk is One Individual Posted: September 20, 2018 at 10:52 AM (#5748026)
Average salary has doubled between 2004 and 2018. Minimum salary is only up 85%. They should target $1M and accept $800k for the new minimum salary. The chart also suggests that minor league salaries should be roughly 2x what they were in 2004 and I really doubt that is the case.


This. If they increase the minimum pay, make AA and AAA players associate members with higher minimum pay *with* partial service time, MLB players be helping themselves and their minor league close cousins. Except for a fairly small bump for the lower levels, I'd be afraid to increase team costs much higher because it would probably push teams to shrink the size of their lower levels, which would then provide fewer opportunities for aspiring players. I know some have suggested this would push development toward colleges. I'm not so sure that would work. Most colleges provide relatively few scholarships to its baseball teams. Most marginal players, especially those who aren't good students, would get hurt, not helped.


Agreed.

Many trade unions work this way - "apprentices" are not full union members (i.e., they don't get to vote on contracts, etc), but they are covered under various union contracts, leading to better benefits and pay, plus - of course - eventually becoming full members.

The sticky widget here is that most apprenticeship programs have a finite timeline - put your time in as an apprentice, you become a journeyman.... so - you've got the problem of lifetime minor leaguers topping out without becoming full members.

That said, trade unions also incorporate even non-apprentices into their contracts.... I.e., 'laborers' - some of whom may be applying to apprenticeship programs and waiting to be accepted, some of whom just need the jobs, etc - but all of whom receive coverage for health benefits under the union program, but generally don't accrue pension service time, etc.

Color me suspicious, though, that the MLBPA is really at all serious about going this path... setting aside how MLB/MLBPA divide up the pie - add a couple thousand minor leaguers in the form of "apprentice/laborers", juice their pay and benefits - that's inevitably going to shrink the portion of the pie for full members.
   10. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 20, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5748044)
It might also give multi-sport high school athletes a bit more incentive to choose baseball over a college football or basketball scholarship


Especially in the warm-weather states, there aren't that many of these any more. These sports have become virtually year-round activities - when you're not playing, you're training.

Elite athletes are pressured to pick a sport by the time they get to middle school.

-- MWE
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 20, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5748047)
As noted above, most minor leaguers are going to wash out by their mid to late 20s, some even earlier, without making it to the Majors. That's not a career, and bargaining for items that would benefit them isn't doing much to develop more Major League players. Just as there isn't much incentive for MLB owners to do much for this group, that's also true of the MLBPA.

I do think the MLBPA will try to do more for those on the 40-man roster, as part of its effort to lessen the cost gap between pre-free agency eligible players and those later in their careers. As noted in other recent threads, that should be a union priority as a matter of equity and preventing the veteran player from being priced out of the market.
   12. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 20, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5748057)
It might also give multi-sport high school athletes a bit more incentive to choose baseball over a college football or basketball scholarship

Especially in the warm-weather states, there aren't that many of these any more. These sports have become virtually year-round activities - when you're not playing, you're training.

Elite athletes are pressured to pick a sport by the time they get to middle school.


That's true, but if MLB were to funnel a lot more money into college baseball programs for scholarships, it might well have an effect on some of those middle school parents. You shouldn't underestimate just how powerful an incentive those college football and basketball scholarships are providing for parents of elite athletes.
   13. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: September 20, 2018 at 11:34 AM (#5748065)
You shouldn't underestimate just how powerful an incentive those college football and basketball scholarships are providing for parents of elite athletes.

... which has always seemed bass-ackwards to me because if the parents took the years of money they were putting into TravelBall with all its related expenses and stuck it in some bank account, they'd be able to write checks for whatever Junior needs to pay for 4 years of college.

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