Why you should be rooting for minor league players lawsuit

SF Giants, Minor League

SF Giants Sam Selman with the Sacramento River Cats during the 2019 Triple-A All-Star game, the highest level of minor league affiliate ball.

As former SF Giants prospect Garrett Broshuis leads a crusade against Major League Baseball, Marc Delucchi argues fans should be rooting for minor league players to finally receive what they deserve.

Last week, on October 5th, the United States Supreme Court denied a request by MLB to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against the league. First filed by former SF Giants prospect turned lawyer Garrett Broshuis in 2014, the suit attempts to force MLB teams to adhere to labor laws and pay minor leaguers at least minimum wage.

The original suit, Senne v. Royals, only included a handful of former minor-league players. In the years since, the suit successfully received class-action status. Now representing thousands of players who were not paid during spring training or were paid below the poverty line, the suit has the potential to forever change professional baseball.

Historically, minor leaguers have not been paid during Spring Training, extended Spring Training, fall, or winter ball. Instead players received a weekly salary when they were assigned to minor-league affiliates and received minmal per diems during travel. Even then, salaries often barely classified as starvation wages.

Historically, if players lasted long enough to reach minor-league free agency, they could then negotiate living wages closer to fair-market value. Of course, players should have never been subjected to such conditions in the first place.

Over the past few years, as journalists, like Emily Waldon, have shined a brighter light on the exploitative conditions, teams have slowly begun increasing compensation. No rule prohibited any team from paying their own minor leaguers more and some have gone beyond the increasing MLB minimum pay-scale. However, most are still doing the bare minimum.

Had the minor-league season not been cancelled, most Triple-A players would have made $700 per week, most Double-A players would have received $600 per week, and most Class-A players would have received just $500 a week. Still, those numbers represent massive jumps from just three years ago, when compensation often dipped below $300 a week.

Broshuis has made it his mission to take this decision making power out of MLB’s hands. Without a union, minor league players have little protection beyond legal statutes. The MLBPA could use it’s leverage to shield minor leaguers but has consistently traded away minor league interests in collectitve bargaining for their own benefits.

Some top prospects receive six or seven-figure signing bonuses to help offset those losses, but the majority of minor leaguers receive signing bonuses of $50,000 or less, far from the necesarry cash needed to offset their future losses. Many players are often forced to balance their own baseball careers with dire financial situations.

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MLB has had decades to correct their ownerships mistreatment of minor-league workers. Now the courts have an opportunity to right years of wrongs. If you are interested in supporting minor leaguers, Garrett Broshuis, the former SF Giants prospect leading the charge, co-founded Advocates for Minor League Baseball to help supporters get involved.