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Mar 17

Pay Structure of Minor League Baseball Players

The pay structure of minor league baseball players is organized between three minor league farm systems.  They are organized as follows: class AAA, class AA, and class A leagues.  The Major League Baseball Offices is in charge of handling the contracts of minor league baseball players. While both the minor league and major league were founded around the same time, the earning potential of a major league player are significantly greater than a minor league player.  The top four highest paid players in the major league all earn over $20 million dollars. This is significantly higher then any minor league baseball player earns
The current salary system for the minor leagues is a follows:

•    First contract season: $850/month maximum.
•    Alien Salary Rates: Different for aliens on visas – mandated by INS
•    Triple-A – First year: $2,150/month, after first year no less than $2,150/month
•    Class AA – First year: $1,500/month, after first year no less than $1,500/month
•    Class A (full season) – First year: $1,050/month, after first year no less than $1,050/month
•    Class A (short-season) – First year: $850/month, after first year no less than $850/month
•    Dominican & Venezuelan Summer Leagues–no lower than $300/month

The current system for minor league baseball players allows for open negotiations beyond players first year.  The pay scale between the minor leagues and major leagues is just one of many problems that exist in baseball.  One related issue is the salary cap. The issue with the salary cap has always arisen when talking about baseball pay structures.  The fact that these minor league players are barely making ends meet, while their upper league counterparts are making over a 100 times more, shows some major flaws in the system.  It is just as much fault to the minor league affiliates as it is to the major league, as the minor league affiliates have no part in the paying of their player’s salary.   Many people in baseball argue that strong salary caps are needed in the major leagues.  The question of fairness comes to mind when thinking about making restrictions to the salary cap.  Is it fair that the New York Yankees can stack their line up with perennial all-stars by spending hundreds of millions of dollars, while a smaller market team like the Pittsburgh Pirates can barely afford to keep their players? Where do we draw the line?  Other leagues such as the NBA and NFL have had no problems setting a salary cap, which puts an equal playing field between all players no matter what market they are playing in.  It is obvious that a team can win with an all-star lineup, but the real challenge comes when teams are faced with having to develop their young players and building your organization from that pool. The minor league develops players for the major league, but what good is that going to do if teams such as the New York Yankees aren’t looking to their farm system for help, but grabbing the best player in the free agent market.  I had the opportunity to talk to minor league pitcher Garrett Broshuis, who is part of the San Francisco Giants farm system on his thoughts on the salary cap system. When it came to the salary cap issue, Broshuis believed in the idea of increased revenue sharing, while also expressing the importance of bringing equity to the game.  On sharing his thoughts on ways we could resolve this problem, Broshuis said, “There are many ways to increase minor league salaries. A pure salary increase from the MLB teams would be the easiest solution, but there are other methods of accomplishing this also. Simply paying for rent, whether it be the MLB team or the minor league club paying, would be a step in the right direction as well.”   In order for baseball to return to America’s favorite past time, the game needs to redistribute money between the minor and major leagues to create a more unified league

Jonathan Lee

•    “Minor League Baseball:Official .” General Minor League Baseball Info. 07 May 2009. MILB. 24 Jul 2009 <http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/info/faq.jsp?mc=milb_info>.
•    Associated, Press. “Who are the highest paid players in Major League Baseball for 2009?.” Real Time Sports 08 April 2009 2. Web.24 Jul 2009. <http://www.masslive.com/sports/index.ssf/2009/04/who_are_the_highest_paid_playe.html>.
•    “MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement.” 2007. MLB. 24 Jul 2009 <http://mlbplayers.mlb.com/pa/pdf/cba_english.pdf.>.

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4 comments

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  1. David

    What about making baseball use a league system?

    First, owners compete in the league they’ve earned, while those who desire to grow a club to the major leagues have the opportunity.
    Second, it increases the relevancy of minor league clubs. For instance, English soccer’s major league has similar average attendance as MLB, but the second division has roughly triple the attendance of AAA Baseball. I’d imagine this also results in better salaries for minor league players also. Perhaps with greater relevancy for minor league clubs, we could see an increase the number of jobs playing baseball.

    I know some have tried to compete with the major pro sports leagues, but I think the leagues are a natural monopoly and wonder if it were about giving teams, not new leagues, the opportunity to compete, whether one could win the argument.

    1. Jonathan Lee

      If you mean giving the minor league teams an opportunity to compete in the major league level, I’m not too sure how well that would fair with the rest of the league. Teams would fluctuate, the league would lack stability. The main concern is not the lack of popularity but I do like your point how it will bring back relevancy to the minor league clubs and how that correlates to the increase in the workforce. The problem is how the major league clubs distribute an overwhelming amount of money to the major league players, while minor league player contracts are left at the bare minimum. It’s definitely a good argument to be made though.

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