Minor League Baseball Players Living Far Below Poverty Line


Major League Baseball players are making more money than ever, with the average salary topping $4 million for the 1st time last year, but most of their minor-league counterparts are living well below the poverty line. Aware of the vast pay gap and plight of MiLB players, MLB chose not to revamp the pay scale, but to pursue legislation that would preserve the status quo (technically they agreed to raise the min. by $60); and it passed as a last-minute addition to the 2,200-page federal spending bill that was rushed through Congress in March. Tonight (July 24th) at 10p EST, HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel examines why MiLB players are “Playing for Peanuts”.

Howie Long-Short: While major league salaries have multiplied 5x over since 1984 and team valuations have grown 20-fold, MiLB player salaries have decreased over the last 25 years (accounting for inflation); Real Sports is reporting that “the majority of” minor league players are earning just $7,500 annually. $7,500 isn’t just below the poverty line ($12,140), it’s less than half of what a full-time minimum wage worker collects ($15,080).

Major League Baseball revenues eclipsed $10 billion for the 1st time in 2017, but Commissioner Manfred argues that the league could not operate if it had to pay MiLB players more money; a joke considering the biggest companies in the world manage to comply with federal minimum wage laws. Here’s a fun fact: MLB could pay every one of the 6,500 minor league baseball players an additional $22,500/year (raising min. comp. to $30,000) for less ($146 million) than what the Astros will pay Jose Altuve ($151 million) to play through ’25.

For those wondering, the “Save America’s Pastime Act” (yes, they’re serious with that name) simply requires MLB to compensate MiLB players for 40-hour work weeks during the season; spring training, off-season conditioning and any “overtime” in season can remain unpaid.

Fan Marino: While MiLB player compensation (and the league’s handling of it) is disturbing, the NBA’s G-League has quietly become a viable alternative to NCAA basketball. In addition to the round-the-clock, world-class coaching, at least two-thirds of the league’s players now make $70,000 (+ housing & medical); more than a respectable living for 5 months of work. That’s not the ceiling either. The NBA added roster spots for 2-way players last year – those designated to split time between their G-League team and NBA affiliate. 2-way players can earn up to $385,000/season. The G-League’s min. player salary is $35,000.

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Author: John Wall Street

At the intersection of sports & finance.

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