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MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the league’s treatment of minor league players on Tuesday when questioned by reporters about their wages, saying he rejects the notation that they are not earning “a living wage.”
While speaking to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before the All-Star GameManfred was defiant when questioned on if team owners choose not to pay minor leaguers more or can’t afford to.
“I kind of reject the premise of the question that minor league players are not paid a living wage,” he responded. “We’ve made real strides in the last few years in terms of what minor league players are paid, even putting to one side the signing bonuses that many of them have already received. They receive housing, which obviously is another form of compensation. I just reject the premise of the question. I don’t know what else to say about that.”
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In 2001, MLB raised salaries for minor leaguers – bumping Class A pay from $290 to $500 per week, Double-A from $350 to $600, and Triple-A from $502 to $700 over the roughly five-month season. Players are only paid during the five-month season.
But a sports agent with knowledge of the situation told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that Manfred’s comments were “laughable” when considering those on the very low end of the wage gap within the minors.
“Strides have been made for minor league pay, but to suggest that players in the system make a living wage is laughable. The pay discrepancy between minor league free agents and minor leaguers who are under the control of a team is huge,” he explained . “On top of that, these players need to worry about training and nutrition in the offseason while not being compensated, and working part-time jobs to make ends meet.”
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According to ESPN, players not on the 40-man roster can make anywhere between $4,800 and $14,700 a year.
“Most minor league baseball players work second jobs because their annual salaries are insufficient to make ends meet,” Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, said in a statement responding to Manfred. “His suggestion that minor league pay is acceptable is both callous and false.”
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Papers filed Friday in federal court revealed MLB agreed to pay $185 million to settle a lawsuit by minor leaguers. MLB agreed in the deal to rescind any prohibitions against teams paying wages to minor league players outside of the season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.