The pay scales for minor-league baseball players has been a subject of much consternation around baseball. Players can make sub-poverty wages, as they draw checks solely during the season. As well, recent legislation at the federal level means they're not eligible for minimum-wage protections. Compounding matters is that the vast majority of minor leaguers aren't on 40-man rosters and as such aren't eligible to join the Major League Players' Association.
Now, at least one team is reportedly taking steps to improve the lot of its minor leaguers. Ken Rosenthal and Emily Waldon of The Athletic report that the Toronto Blue Jays will increase the salaries of minor leaguers by 40 to 56 percent, depending on the level. In the aggregate, that's an increase of more than 50 percent. Here's John Lott, also of The Athletic, with some specifics:
After a 40 per cent raise, a first-year Triple-A player will make roughly $3,050 per month or $15,250 for a five-month season. In Double-A, players will get 50 per cent boost to about $2,550 per month or $12,750 per season. Single-A players receive a 56 percent raise to just less than $2,400 per month or a shade below $12,000 per season.
It should be stressed that these figures are rough estimates, extrapolated by adding the Jays' percentage increases to the minimum minor-league salaries set by Major League Baseball. They do not include bonuses or the wide variance in Triple-A salaries based on a player's experience. And MLB mandates salaries for all players playing their first pro season.
This isn't the kind of money that turns pauper into prince, but it's certainly a start. Change tends to be incremental, and this is a step toward better wages for minor-league ballplayers. As Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals recently tweeted, he crunched the numbers and figured he made less than $2 per hour at one level.
It should also be noted that it's very much in the teams' interests, from a player-development standpoint, to pay their minor leaguers enough to afford basic comforts and nutritious food. Now that the Jays have moved to the front of the line when it comes to minor-league pay, don't be surprised if other clubs follow suit.