Minor League Umpires To Receive Significant Pay Raise In 2022

Image credit: (Photo by Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

For the first time in nearly two decades, minor league umpires will receive a significant pay raise beginning in 2022.

The Association of Minor League Baseball Umpires (ALMU) has approved a new four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new agreement will see umpires paid $2,800 a month in the rookie complex leagues, $3,000 in Low-A and $4,500 in Triple-A. That’s up from $2,000 for rookie-ball umpires and as low as $2,100 in Low-A under the previous agreement.

Those salaries will also receive a 2% cost-of-living adjustment for every year of the CBA, raising those salaries to $2,971 per month in rookie ball and $4,775 per month in Triple-A in 2025.

The cost-of-living adjustments and significant pay bumps come in the AMLU’s first negotiation with Major League Baseball. Previously, the umpires negotiated with MiLB league presidents and MiLB officials.

Much like players, MiLB umpires are going through the development process that produced MLB umpires. All MLB umpires come up through the minor leagues. The process generally sees highly-rated Triple-A umpires become “rovers” who will come up to fill in on MLB series during the season. When permanent openings at the MLB level open up, new umpires are selected from the best of the MiLB umpires.


Minor league umpires went on strike in 2006. MiLB filled the slots with replacement umpires. While the quality of umpiring took a clear hit, the games continued and eventually the MiLB umpires returned to the field having agreed to a new deal that was largely the same one they had rejected before going on strike.

The next two agreements brought quality-of-life improvements (like better hotel standards and equipment allowances), but when it came to base pay, those agreements saw extremely modest bumps across the board (a couple of hundred dollars) and no cost-of-living adjustments.

Umpires will also be eligible for a performance bonus in the new agreement. Umpires rated in the top tier for their level (20-40% of all umpires at that level) will receive an additional month’s salary as a bonus. Those rated in the middle tier (30-60% of umpires at that level) will receive 50% of their monthly salary as a bonus. The bottom tier (10-30% of umpires at that level) will receive 25% of their monthly salary in a bonus.

Per diem will also see a bump to $64 per day and will be adjusted to match IRS rates for the following three years of the agreement.

Jordan Ferrell, the President of the AMLU, said the raises gained in the new CBA are needed, but also pointed out that they come after years of stagnant wages.

“This CBA allows the membership to continue to pursue their professional goal of obtaining a full-time contract with MLB, while achieving substantial non-economic gains and moderate economic gains in the light that both sides acknowledge that the economic model is broken and requires more than one contract term to fix,” Ferrell said. “Umpires protect the integrity of baseball and deserve to be compensated for the innate value and irreplaceable skill set they provide to MLB and its fans.”

The system for promoting umpires has also been adjusted in the new CBA. Before, umpires advanced level by level. Now it is possible for a highly-rated umpire to skip levels on their way through the minors.

“We are proud to announce a new four-year agreement with the minor league umpires. Consistent with our goal of modernizing the minor leagues, the deal provides for significant increases in compensation and benefits, as well as a quicker path to the Majors for top performers,” MLB said in a statement sent to Baseball America. “The agreement will aim to expand opportunities for minority and female candidates. We look forward to working with the minor league umpires in the years to come.”

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