How much do minor league baseball players make ? The Minor League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball have agreed on the first collective bargaining agreement in the history of the minor leagues.
The deal still needs final approval, but that is expected to be a formality. If approved, it will mean that for the first time in the nearly 125-year history of the “organized” minor leagues, minor league players will have played a part in determining their employment conditions.
Under the terms of the agreement, minor league player salaries will be increased dramatically. Players in the complex leagues will go from making a minimum of $4,800 per year to $19,800 a year. The minimum salary for players in Low-A will go from $11,000 to $26,200. High-A salaries will jump from $11,000 to $27,300. Double-A salaries will go from $13,800 to $30,250. Triple-A salaries will increase from $17,500 to $35,800.
Housing standards, especially for players with families, have also been improved in the CBA. And going forward, new signees who sign at 19 or older will be eligible for minor league free agency after six seasons. Previously, all minor league players regardless of age had to play seven seasons before they reached minor league free agency.
Details have been confirmed by Baseball America. News of the CBA was first reported by Evan Drellich of The Athletic and Jeff Passan of ESPN.
MLB approves first contract for minor league players
Minor leaguers ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball ahead of the season’s start on Friday.
Players and league officials Wednesday agreed to a five-year deal. MLB owners are expected to vote on the agreement next week.
The Major League Baseball Players Association, which in September began representing players with minor league contracts, said Friday that more than 99% of minor leaguers who cast ballots approved the deal. About 5,500 players are in the bargaining unit.
“It’s a historic day for these players,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement.
Under the agreement, minimum salaries for minor league players will rise by tens of thousands of dollars, and, for the first time, players will be paid in the offseason.
For rookies, the salary will rise from $4,800 to $19,800. At Low Class A, salaries will grow from $11,000 to $26,200 while High Class A will grow from $13,800 to $27,300. Triple-A players will go from $17,500 to $35,800.
The contract comes as welcome news for minor leaguers who have historically been underpaid relative to their professional brethren in the major leagues. Some minor league players said they took odd jobs — like mowing lawns — to make ends meet during the off season. Other players have taken up part-time landscaping gigs or moonlighted as athletic trainers.
Minor league players will receive four weeks of retroactive spring training pay this year. They will get $625 weekly for spring training and offseason training camp and $250 weekly for offseason workouts at home.
Most players will be guaranteed housing, and players at Double-A and Triple-A will be given a single room. Players at Low A and High A will have the option of exchanging club housing for a stipend. Players who sign for the first time at 19 or older can become minor league free agents after six seasons instead of seven.
MLB agreed not to reduce minor league affiliates from the current 120. Beginning in 2024, teams will be allowed a maximum of 165 players under contract during the season and 175 during the offseason, down from the current limits 190 and 180.
Players will gain rights to second medical opinions, a 401(k) plan and arbitration to contest discipline under a just cause standard. The union agreement also includes policies barring domestic violence and performance-enhancing drugs.
How much money do minor league baseball players earn?
For most American kids, there are two roads to the big leagues. One sees you go to college and then to the draft; the other sees you get drafted straight out of high school. Either of these will see you stopping off in minor league ball, but that is still a professional baseball contract, right?
The focus in the media is usually on the top end of the financial stories, the Juan Soto $400 million contracts, but for every player making big money, there are a thousand barely making ends meet.
When you hear that the minimum salary for MLB is $700,000 a year, you might scoff and say, “These guys are all rich!” But you may reconsider when considering the MLB simply the razor-sharp tip of the baseball iceberg.
The 26-man roster sees a total of 780 players in MLB at any one moment. Of course, things are more complicated with players being called up and sent down, placed on the injured list, and you get a number more like 900. Considering the 40-man rosters, you can get a top figure of 1200 players in major league baseball.
Now let’s look at the minor leagues. There are 206 teams affiliated with the central league farm system, 120 are deemed minor league, and 86 are rookie leagues. They rank from Triple-A down to Rookie and can have between 28 players for Triple-A and Double-A and 30 for High-A and Single-A on their rosters.
So with a quick referral to our trusty calculator, we can see 6060 players in the MLB’s official minor league pipeline. We are, of course, ignoring any international leagues that are not affiliated with MLB since they will have their own countries’ labor laws to contend with and fall outside the scope of this article.
If the MLB minimum is $700k, then the minor league minimum must be some multiple of that, right? Perhaps 20%? $140k? Maybe it graduates down so that the Double-A guys get half that, then the High-A guys get half that, or something along those lines?
In 2018, the laughably paradoxical Save America’s Pastime Act was passed, exempting baseball players from the federal minimum wage and overtime pay. MLB owners lobbied Congress hard for this for years. Well, “lobby” is the polite American word for it, and elsewhere it is known as “bribery and corruption.”
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