Minor league baseball players nationwide are due to receive a share of a $185 million payment from Major League Baseball (MLB), over a year since the league agreed to settle culmination of a lawsuit accusing the league of violating minimum wage laws.
The lawsuit was first filed in 2014 by Aaron Senne—a high draft pick by the Florida Marlins who retired in 2013—along with a number of other former minor league players. They accused the MLB of not paying adequate overtime pay and ignoring state minimum wage requirements for their small-market employees.
As many as 24,000 players are expected to benefit from the settlement, with average payments between $5000 and $5,000 starting in mid-August.
The settlement is part of a flurry of legal activity by minor league baseball players in the US. The players voted to unionize in September 2022 and were admitted to the Major League Baseball Players Association just two months later. The initial push for unionization came after the MLB cut 40 minor-league teams in February 2021, eliminating hundreds of jobs.
This past April, the players’ association successfully negotiated their first collective bargaining agreement with MLB owners, agreeing to a five-year deal that more than doubled the average player’s salary.
120: Full-season minor league baseball teams in the US and Canada associated with a major league club. There are four leagues within minor league baseball, including the highest-ranked Triple-A.
5,000: Estimated minor league baseball players currently on a minor league roster.
$19,800: The minimum pay for minor league rookies over the course of a season under the new collective bargaining agreement. The previous minimum salary for rookies was $4,800.
$49 million: Valuation of the Sacramento River Cats, the minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. They are the most valuable minor league team in the league due to consistent attendance by fans in Sacramento, one of the largest American cities without an MLB team.
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders—the most powerful socialist in US politics—blames the MLB for his crusade against capitalism, specifically the decision by Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley to relocate the team to Los Angeles in 1958.
“It was like they would move the Brooklyn Bridge to California,” Sanders remembered thinking, blaming corporate greed for the untimely end of his beloved baseball team’s time in New York City. “How can you move the Brooklyn Bridge to California?”
Now, history is repeating itself. At the end of this baseball season, the Oakland Athletics are leaving their home in California for the bright lights and deep pockets of Las Vegas.
This is not a shocking development by itself: the A’s were initially founded in Philadelphia, and won three championships in Kansas City, before finally making it out West in 1968. But it is part of an unfortunate pattern for the area.
Oakland—a city often overshadowed by neighboring San Francisco—has now seen all three of its other professional sports leave, including the 2020 decision by the Raiders (the NFL team) to leave for Las Vegas.
The decision by owner Jon Fisher—the billionaire owner of Gap who has been criticized by fans for underinvesting in the team—has now left a major American city, already struggling economically, without a pro sports team to root for.