Minor League Baseball has long been a place where dreams go to die. Players hopeful of big league futures have faced poor conditions and pay for decades, but according to a report from Jeff Passan there could be improvements coming in the near future.
BREAKING: A deal is in place between the minor league players in the MLBPA and Major League Baseball on the historic first collective-bargaining agreement for minor leaguers, union officials tell ESPN. Deal is five years and includes at least 2x pay at all levels of the minors.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 30, 2023
Changes have long been pursued to improve the conditions for minor league baseball players, and just last winter players received a significant pay raise. This was, however, just a band-aid on a stab wound as it fell still far short of paying players a livable wage and allowing them to focus on baseball as a professional. Action was still being taken and most teams did the bare minimum, providing poor nutrition and substandard housing to many athletes. Still, it marked a shift in the right direction for labor rights among minor league players and this landmark agreement could be the next big step.
Details on pay increases in the minor leagues:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 30, 2023
Complex league: From $4,800 per year to $19,800
Low-A: $11,000 to $26,200
High-A: $11,000 to $27,300
AA: $13,800 to $30,250
AAA: $17,500 to $35,800
Players will be paid almost year-round, aside from a six-week break in the winter.
Finally, players at the upper levels of the minor leagues could have a wage decent enough to support themselves without needing to drive for uber during spring training. While some players are the recipients of large signing bonuses, a vast majority have had to scrap from the beginning and the prior paltry salaries were still not enough. The biggest changes were at the lower levels, where teenagers were paid starvation wages to be expected to spend an upwards of eight months in team facilities. These numbers in many cases will still fall short of a livable wage, and there will certainly be pushes for more money in the future, however this is for the moment a massive pay raise. Other terms of this agreement are not yet known.
The Domestic Reserve List, which governs the maximum number of players in an organization outside of Latin America, will be reduced starting in the 2024 season from 180 to 165. The league has sought a reduction in the reserve list since the major league negotiations last year.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 30, 2023
The next ramification of this decision will be the structure of the minor leagues as a whole. While team certainly can afford to pay their players this amount, they have been hesitant for years and the last pay rise came with a significant restructuring of affiliated ball and a reduction in teams. Organizations may look to further reduce the players on hand, and we could see a rise in system’s like the alternate site in 2020 where players are handed over to a complex full time instead of traveling to play around the country. We will have to await the full terms of the CBA to completely understand how deep this will affect the structure of baseball and how MLB plans to move forwards, but in any case this will be one of the most important changes in the history of this sport.