Lengthy bus rides, cheap hotels and a long road to the majors may still be commonplace among minor league baseball players, but some could soon see a big pay raise.
The Toronto Blue Jays are close to finalizing a pay increase of more than 50 percent for all players on the rosters of the team’s minor league affiliates, according to a report from The Athletic's Emily Waldon and Ken Rosenthal.
"It puts us right now up at the top of the scale in the industry," Blue Jays Vice President of Baseball Operations Ben Cherington said. "My hope is it doesn't stay that way. My hope is other teams eventually do the same."
While most minor league players earn an estimated $7,500 per year, according to The Associated Press, the average salary for athletes at the big league level is more than $4 million. Players in the minors are restricted to $1,100 per month max in their first year – after that, the league says the salary is “open to negotiation.”
The pay dilemma for minor leaguers worsened as they were dealt another blow when the Save America’s Pastime Act was passed in March 2018. The legislation, which was part of the $1.3 trillion spending bill, exempted MLB from federal wage and overtime rules.
“Any employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not spring training or the offseason) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage ... for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities,” the legislation reads.
MLB earned $10.3 billion in baseball-related activities in 2018, the 16th consecutive year of record gross revenues, according to Forbes which cited industry sources.