Baltimore Sun

Manfred on defensive over wages for minor leaguers


Baseball Commission­er Rob Manfred defended the sport’s treatment of minor leaguers, prompting immediate criticism from the players’ advocacy group.

“I kind of reject the premise of the question that minor league players are not paid a living wage,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Associatio­n of America before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, which ended too late for this edition.

“I think that 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.”

MLB raised minimum salaries in 2021, increasing 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 in-season.

Amateur players residing in the United States and Canada who are selected in this week’s amateur draft have slot values for their signing bonuses, which clubs use as guidelines, ranging from $8.8 million for the first pick to just under $150,000 for the last selections of the 10th and final round.

Last November, MLB announced it was requiring teams to provide furnished accommodat­ions, with a single bed per player and no more than two players per bedroom. Teams are responsibl­e for basic utility bills.

“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.”

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.

An early estimate is that perhaps 23,000 players could share the money with an average payment of $5,000 to $5,500, with $55.5 million going to the players’ lawyers.

Leaders of the Senate Judiciary

Committee have asked Manfred to explain by next Tuesday the impact of potential legislatio­n stripping the sport’s antitrust exemption from covering the sport’s relationsh­ip with minor league players.

While players with major league contracts are unionized, players with minor league contracts are not. The Major League Baseball Players Associatio­n gave Advocates for Minor Leaguers $50,000 last November, according to a disclosure statement.

“It is exciting to see players recognizin­g and appreciati­ng the power of

their collective voice in effecting positive change in things that they live day to day,” union head Tony Clark, a former first baseman, told the BBWAA in a question-and-answer session prior to Manfred’s. “Harry Marino and the Advocates for Minor Leaguers have done a tremendous job in engaging and educating the the minor leaguers and helping them to find their voice. ... We are watching. We are providing

support when and where possible.”

Clark appears likely to stay on as head of the baseball players’ associatio­n.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and I am more than committed to continue to do it,” the former All-Star first baseman said Tuesday.

Now 50, Clark took over as union head in late 2013 following the death of Michael Weiner. Clark led the union during labor negotiatio­ns in 2016 and during the deal in March that followed a 99-day lockout. The new agreement expires in December 2026.

Bruce Meyer headed the day-to-day bargaining during the most recent talks

and was promoted last week to deputy executive director from senior director of collective bargaining and legal.

The union’s key decisions are made by a 38-man executive committee, which includes an eight-man executive subcommitt­ee. Seven of the eight members of the executive subcommitt­ee made $12 million or more in 2021 and the other made $3.5 million.

While the executive subcommitt­ee voted 8-0 against approving the fiveyear contract, team player representa­tives voted 26-4 in favor, leaving the overall ballot at 26-12 for ratificati­on.

Clark said voices are heard from lower-paid members of the union.

“The veteran players were the most vocal players about improving the

system for the younger players,” Clark said. “They recognize the changes

‘Committed’ to the future:

that were happening in the game and they recognize because they are in the clubhouse with the young players and wanting to let them know that they had their back when negotiatin­g.”

The deal included a $50 million annual bonus pool for players not yet eligible for arbitratio­n.

Clark said players pushed for “the acknowledg­ment that younger players were delivering more value and needed to realize more of that value.”

Soto takes the long view: Juan Soto bet heavily on his own talent and health by turning down a massive, long-term contract extension from the Nationals.

Soto then went to the Home Run Derby at Dodger Stadium and showed why he almost certainly can’t lose.

Soto won the Derby for the first time Monday night, holding off Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez 19-18 in the final.

The 23-year-old Soto hit 53 total homers, beating each of his three opponents by one homer while hitting second each time in the midseason power showcase. Soto was locked in at the plate even after spending an hour earlier at Chavez Ravine answering repeated questions about his possible departure from the Nats after turning down a $440 million offer.

“It feels amazing. It feels tiring,” said Soto, a reserve on the NL All-Star team for Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic. “I just tried to concentrat­e to square off the balls, because I know I have the power.”

With a big celebrator­y bat flip after the final homer dropped into the stands, Soto became the second-youngest Home Run Derby winner in baseball history — by a single day. At 23 years and 266 days old, Soto is only one day older than Juan González was when he won in 1993.

Soto hit a 482-foot blast to right-center while beating the Guardians’ José Ramírez 18-17 in the first round, and he got past 42-year-old Albert Pujols of the Cardinals 16-15 to reach the final.

Soto earned a $1 million prize — a whole lot more than his $700,000 salary this season — and another highlight on his resume as his time with the Nationals possibly nears an end. He turned down a 15-year, $440 million contract to stay with the Nationals, and he could be traded by the end of the month. That contract would have been the biggest in total value and the 19th-largest by average salary in baseball history.

 ?? GINA FERAZZI/LOS ANGELES TIMES ?? The Nationals’ Juan Soto flips his bat after advancing to the second round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. Soto went on to win the Derby, besting Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez in the finals.
GINA FERAZZI/LOS ANGELES TIMES The Nationals’ Juan Soto flips his bat after advancing to the second round of the Home Run Derby on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. Soto went on to win the Derby, besting Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez in the finals.

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