When hundreds of people in a “business” are making below the federal poverty line, then you would think that business would be doing quite poorly. Think again. Major League Baseball (MLB), which has heard the narrative that it is dying due to lack of interest from the younger demographic and the idea that is somewhat of a boring sport, is doing quite well at the moment.
According to the Washington Post (WP) article linked first, “baseball has in recent years parlayed renewed popularity into record earnings, leveraging apparel and media demands into $9.5 billion in revenue last year; its 30 franchises averaged $23 million in profits in 2015, and many of its minor league affiliates saw attendance figures and team values continue a steady climb.” So it might be true that younger children have a lack of interest in the game (which could in turn affect the future), but right now there is still plenty of interest and revenue.
In this “business”, minor league baseball players are not getting a fair share of the gigantic money pie. The WP notes that these players are making close to $10,000 throughout the year and the starting salary for a first-year player is $1,100. You might think of these minor league baseball players as just kids, coming out of high school and college so that kind of money should be able to support them. While that might be true towards the lower levels of minor league baseball, the fact of the matter is as you slowly work up the ladder towards the higher levels, a lot of these players are guys that need to support a family. According to the WP, 80% of the draft picks never make it to the major leagues.
Why would they accept this harsh reality? Some won’t, as they filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the MLB for the small amount they were making. The truth is, a good percentage of the players will go through all of this pain just to have a chance. A chance to make their dream come true and play in the MLB at some point. It doesn’t have to be that way, they could have both. They could have an increase in salary while also pursuing their dream. They could support their family and play baseball both at the same time.
MLB needs these “organizational” players (guys that don’t have a future in the major leagues) so they can help grow their players that are on their way to the MLB. Without that structure and competition, it really hurts the development of their players and the overall strength of there ball club.
According to Sports Illustrated, the MLB has the simple defense that these players signed these contracts agreeing to the situation and knew what they were getting themselves into. It seems frustrating and unjust with all of this money going around in the MLB, but the players will continue to pursue their dreams to make it into the major leagues at some point and the teams are giving them the opportunity for that. That’s why minor league baseball players may have a hard time getting a bigger piece of the pie.