The KC Royals are one member of a wealthy league that is trying to win a special exemption from Congress to avoid applying minimum wage laws for minor-league players. MLB’s proposed bill to turn this desire into law is now in front of Congress.
I’m sorry, but this whole idea is despicable. According to Forbes magazine, gross revenue for the league approached $9.5 billion for the 2015 season, and is likely to increase in 2016. That’s a nearly $500 million gain over 2014.
Are you telling me that a league with that kind of revenue can’t afford to pay their minor-league players minimum wage?
Think that question is ridiculous? Apparently, major-league don’t think so. That’s exactly what owners are trying to tell Congress. Major league Commissioner had been lobbying Congress for such an exemption after a group of minor-league players sued MLB on the basis that their salaries violate federal minimum wage and overtime laws. Some players make as little as $3,300 a year in low level rookie leagues.
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Yes, the point is somewhat moot for high-round prospects who earn signing bonuses that can reach many millions of dollars. But, what of the 20th round pick who gets next to nothing to sign? Are you telling me that teams, who routinely eat multi-million dollar contracts after over-aged free-agents fail to perform, can’t afford to pay minor league players $7.25 an hour?
Let’s suppose the average farm system has 200 or so players. Paying them as little as $30,000 more per season would cost no more than an additional $6 million per team.
Yes, minor-league players aren’t directly paid by the major-league team that holds their rights. But you have to think that there is some way to redirect a trickle of major-league baseball’s growing revenue into the hands of minor league players. Many of these guys won’t come anywhere close to making the Big Club, and end up with little to show for their professional careers once they’re finished.
Thus, the excuse that they’ll make it later when they win a big league job rings rather hollow. The fact is, baseball’s arguments are ridiculous. Instead, the league is making a blatant attempt to use the social notoriety that come with the game to get their way. Fans need to tell their favorite team (including KC Royals owner David Glass) that they won’t stand for it.
Paying minor league players next to nothing seems counter-productive. Forcing players to live in cramped living conditions while leaving them few resources to eat well must takes a toll in terms of stress and poor nutrition. How does that make sense when you’re trying to develop them into World Class athletes? How many players bust in rookie league due to living conditions rather than lack of talent?
Even having to ask such a question is completely stupid when the league is pulling down $9.5 billion a year.