Image credit: Mets RHP Andrew Church (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)
While Minor League Baseball players do not have a union, they do now have advocates. The newly-formed Advocates of Minor Leaguers announced late last week that an assortment of ex-MiLB players, current MiLB players and supporters of MiLB players has formed an advocacy group to support current MiLB players.
The group includes retired players Ty Kelly, Matt Pare, Raul Jacobson and Garrett Broshuis as well as current player Andrew Church. There are a number of other current players, but most have joined without publicizing their involvement.
Today the group is releasing a statement urging MLB to continue paying MiLB players from the date the MiLB season was originally scheduled to debut. So far, MLB has worked out a plan to pay MiLB players their per diem for what would have been the remainder of spring training, but has said that plans for whether MiLB players will be paid during the season have yet to be finalized.
“It is our understanding that MLB and its teams have already taken steps to protect some of their most vulnerable by pledging to pay stadium workers. We urge that you do the same for your Minor League baseball players,” the statement says.
“We now urge MLB to again do the right thing by paying these Minor Leaguers their actual salaries beginning April 8—the date when the Minor League season was set to begin. We recognize that these are difficult times not just for Minor League players but also for the teams, as they try to meet all their obligations in the face of greatly reduced revenue this year. But just as the MLB teams will still be paying their Minor League managers, coaches, and trainers (and rightfully so), they should also still pay their Minor League players.
“You and your teams are better positioned to absorb the impact of this cost than the Minor League players. Paying the salaries of the Minor League players will likely cost each MLB team less than $300,000 per month. We hope that the MLB teams can use some of their record profits from last year to continue to invest in players this year. After all, they are your employees, and they are the future face of this game.”
In the long run, Advocates for Minor Leaguers will be pushing for a $15,000 minimum salary for minor leaguers. But for now, it’s working to try to make sure minor leaguers get paid during the novel coronavirus-induced season suspension.
“There’s also the anxiety of whether they will be receiving a paycheck. That should not be going on. I know a player who not long ago he and his wife bought their first house. He was expecting to make a paycheck and make that first payment on a house. A lot of players are in similar situations,” Broshuis said.
The group approved of MLB’s decision to pay per diems, saying it was a needed step, since MiLB players do not get paid except for during the actual season, leaving many struggling when they were sent home when spring training was shut down.
“Anything at this point is better than nothing. Guys are just trying to figure out where to live for the foreseeable future. Not everyone is able to just go home and bunk with their parents for the next month or two. A lot of guys are just in no-mans land and trying to figure out what’s going to happen. It’s not an easy time for anyone looking for work right now,” Kelly said.
As an advocacy group, Advocates for Minor Leagues do not have a seat at the table to represent MiLB players in negotiations with MLB like a union would have. MiLB players are not represented by the Major League Baseball Players Association (which is limited to players on the 40-man MLB roster).
“It’s no doubt going to be difficult to start a minor league union. They are chasing the dream of the major leagues . . . In the interim I didn’t want to sit around for a MiLB union to possibly form someday. We didn’t want to wait for that to happen. We wanted to do what we could in the meantime,” Broshuis said.