Players in rookie ball, West Michigan, Lakeland, Erie, and Toledo will be getting a raise in 2021. It’s a start.
Major League Baseball is set to raise the minimum salary for minor league players in 2021 according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press on Friday. The wage increase is between 38% and 72%. This comes across the heels after Congress passed Save America’s Pastime Act, which allowed major-league teams to continue paying the practice of paying minor-league players below minimum wage in 2018. What was interesting about when the bill was passed was that it was thrown in the back of a spending bill that was passed, page 1,967 to be exact.
Here’s how the pay system will work.
Players at rookie and short-season levels such as Norwich and rookie ball in Lakeland will see their minimum weekly pay raised from $290 to $400, and players at Class A (West Michigan and Lakeland) will go from $290 to $500. Double-A (Erie) will jump from $350 to $600, and Triple-A (Toledo) from $502 to $700. Keep in mind that minor league players during spring training do not receive pay nor during the off-season, just during the start of the season.
If a player is on the 40-man roster with the option to be sent back down, the minimum they will make for the 2020 season is $46,000. According to The Athletic, the average salary for a minor league baseball player was $6,000 in Single-A, $9,350 in Double-A and $15,000 in Triple-A in 2018.
So when you hear players like Tigers left-handed prospect Max Green talk about his off-season work out regime, he is not being paid for it. Granted, the higher round picks start off with higher signing bonuses then their late-round counterparts but stories of players as Emily Waldon described in her excellent piece in the Athletic last year (subscription required) after players eat at the facilities, they are receiving only $20 to 30 dollars a day for meals so every dollar counts.
MLB recent came under fire after the minor league proposal in which 42 teams would be eliminated. This raise is a start and I am happy for the players but I still remain cautious on the future until we hear more details on keeping these teams long-term. This could be a move that would just keep 4 affiliates teams for each club. We can hope that teams like the Toronto Blue Jays who last year, raise salaries by 50% and remain the only team that did. can increase salaries even more.
On the other hand, the New York Mets, who spent $57 million dollars on their spring training clubhouse in St Lucie, which is the home of their High-A affiliate team, will not allow them to use this new upgraded clubhouse when the season begins. Not every idea will be a good one.