A Procative Approach To Improving Minor League Baseball Compensation
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Under the protection of Major League Baseball’s (“MLB”) longtime antitrust exemption, Minor League Baseball (“MiLB”) has continuously redefined and reshaped itself according to Baseball’s overall needs. But while MLB salaries have increased dramatically since the MLB reserve clause was broken in 1975, the salaries of minor league players have not followed suit.
On February 7, 2014, a group of minor league players led by former minor leaguer Aaron Senne filed a class action complaint against MLB and three MLB clubs alleging violations of minimum wage and hour laws. According to the complaint, most minor leaguer earn between $3,000 and $7,500 working between fifty and seventy hours per week during the five month season. The wage and…show more content… Once a player is placed on a club’s 40-man roster, he is entitled to the minimum salary prescribed in the Basic Agreement, which for 2014 is $500,000 for MLB service and $81,500 for MiLB service. Historically, while the average minor league salary has risen by just 75 percent since 1976, the average MLB salary has risen by approximately 2,000 percent thanks in part to union representation and open markets. Regardless of the legality of the claims raised in Senne, MLB has an ethical responsibility to change the current system to ensure that minor league players are not living in poverty by fairly compensating them for their hard work, both financially and with other intrinsic compensation. A proactive approach that balances the interests of players and the financial needs of clubs can solve these issues while retaining the development structure that clubs rely on.
First and most simply, MLB should increase monthly salaries for minor league players. Having players paid below the poverty line is embarrassing for an organization that produces over $8 billion in revenue per year. To answer this concern, MLB clubs can take advantage of the colossal jumps in television revenue to increase salaries. MLB can also help, perhaps using some of the $750 million added per season by their new national media contracts.
By multiplying the current figures by 2.5 (see Figure 2), a structure is created that gives all