What’s going on, Baseball fans?!
While MLB is still pushing to eliminate 42 teams and reduce the draft, there is some good news in the world of Minor League Baseball: players will be receiving a much deserved raise in 2021. On Friday February 14th, MLB announced that it will be raising MiLB player salaries after this upcoming season. According to reports the minimum weekly salary for players on Rookie-level and short-season teams would move from $290 to $400 , players in both low and high Class A would move from $290 to $500 , Double-A would go from $350 to $600 and Triple-A would jump from $502 to $700/week. Please keep in mind, players only receive pay during the season (April 9 to Labor Day weekend). While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided that MiLB players could sue MLB teams for pay for post-season play in league championships, that means that at most a player at AAA will make less than $17,000 before taxes and clubhouse dues ($15 a day in 2015 for AAA players).
While I am happy that Minor Leaguers are getting paid more (still a small amount considering they must attend mandatory practice, weight training and conditioning, games, extra-innings, etc.) MLB is presenting this as a move they are making because they plan on reducing the number of teams and players in the Minors, but they don’t talk about the moving pieces happening in the background.
MiLB pays MLB roughly $5k/player in Ticket Taxes, which effectively reimburses MLB for most of the salaries they pay to MiLB players. Basically, players in Rookie ball are essentially free to MLB teams, players at the A classification cost MLB teams $800 a season, AA players cost $2,000 a season, and AAA players cost $5,040 a season(unless they are on the 40-man).
To put this in perspective, the Red Sox are paying $2.02M a season for Manny Ramirez until 2026, and the Mets are paying Bobby Bonilla $1.19M a season until 2035; Ramires has not appeared in MLB since 2011 and Bonilla has not played since 2001. Given how much of MLB’s “dead money” is currently on the books cost savings seems like an ineffective case for eliminating so many MiLB teams.