Major League Baseball is planning to provide housing for affiliated minor-league players starting in the 2022 season. It's not yet certain whether housing for minor leaguers will come via stipends that supplement the players' incomes or via pre-arranged accommodations established by MLB. Whatever the specifics, the help will surely be welcomed by minor leaguers, who by and large don't make livable wages and must typically work second jobs in the offseason, when they still have training responsibilities.
In response to a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan, MLB released a statement in which it says details of the initiative are in the final stages and owners voted to provide housing to "certain" minor-league players. Here's the statement:
"MLB is engaged in a multi-year effort to modernize the minor league system and better assist players as they pursue their dreams of playing in the Major Leagues. In 2021, we increased the salaries for minor league players by 38-72%, depending on level, and significantly reduced travel requirements during the season. In addition, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of improvements to minor league ballparks around the country are already underway, including substantial renovations to player-facing facilities like locker rooms and training rooms. In mid-September, the owners discussed the issue of player housing and unanimously agreed to begin providing housing to certain minor league players. We are in the process of finalizing the details of that policy and expect it to be announced and in place for the 2022 season."
That means rookie and short-season players will make $400 a week instead of $290; Class-A will make $500 instead of $290; Double-A will make $600 instead of $350; and Triple-A will make $700 instead of $502. Triple-A players, then, will make at least $14,000 a season. Every other level will make $12,000 or less for the season.
Housing takes up a large share of a minor-league player's already tight budget, particularly in locales with higher cost of living levels. This new policy, assuming it comes to pass, will make a huge difference for players at the farm level. On the team side, they have heavy incentives to provide a better quality of life for the players that will in the future form the foundation of the team at the highest level, but for too long they've resisted such prompts.
Former Marlins president David Samson broke down the minor-league housing news on Monday's Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Suffice it to say, none of this would've come to pass without the tireless work of activists for minor-league players. Doing a particularly strong job of drawing attention to the issue has been the Advocates for Minor Leaguers group. The group's executive director, Harry Marino, released the following statement on Sunday in response to Passan's report:
"This is a historic victory for Minor League baseball players. When we started talking to players this season about the difficulties they face, finding and paying for in-season housing was at the top of almost every player's list. As a result, addressing that issue became our top priority in this, our first season in existence.
Drawing on each other's courage, Minor Leaguers across the country came forward to speak honestly about their living conditions, both through our organization and individually. It was this unprecedented behavior -- Minor League players unifying and utilizing their collective voice -- that ultimately upset the status
With housing addressed, our efforts now turn to tackling low, seasonal pay. Most Minor Leaguers make less than $15,000 per year and won't receive their next paycheck until April. For the next six months, they will spend hours each day training -- as required by contract -- while trying to balance second and third jobs to make ends meet. Like housing six players in a two-bedroom apartment this is a broken model from a bygone era. Minor Leaguers will not rest until they receive the livable annual salary they deserve."
The 2022 minor league regular season begins in early April of next year.