Blue Jays to give their minor league players a 50% pay increase

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
12,970
The Blue Jays will be unilaterally increasing the pay they give their minor league players.
(The linked article is in The Athletic, which is a paid subscription site)

The news was announced by the Blue Jays' VP of Baseball Operations, Ben Cherington. Say what you will about Cherington's moves as GM, he helped to build a really strong farm system here.

"At a time of intense discussion over the low salaries of minor leaguers, the Toronto Blue Jays are positioning themselves as an organization ready to embrace change.

When the “Save America’s Pastime” act passed in March 2018, depriving minor leaguers of overtime pay beyond a 40-hour work week, the Blue Jays already were talking about how they could improve the compensation of players in their farm system.

A year later, the team is in the process of finalizing a pay increase of more than 50 percent for any player who is on a roster of an affiliated minor-league club, from the lowest rung in the Dominican Summer League to the highest level at Triple A, club officials told The Athletic.

“It puts us right now up at the top of the scale in the industry,” Jays vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington said on Saturday. “My hope is it doesn’t stay that way. My hope is other teams eventually do the same.

“We hope that it allows our players to have the freedom and comfort to make some good choices, whether it’s where to live, where to eat, etc. We just feel like it’s consistent with our values of trying to be a player-centered organization and give them every resource possible to be at their best.”

I think this is a great move and very wise by the Jays. Their players will now have an easier time staying fit and focusing on improving. The added money could also help them attract some minor league free agents.

I hope the Red Sox do the same as soon as possible.
 

mauidano

Mai Tais for everyone!
SoSH Member
Aug 21, 2006
27,977
Maui
This is great news and hoping all of MLB follows this common sense lead. With a nephew in the D-Backs organization we really understand the impact this has.
 

KingChre

lurker
Jul 31, 2009
35
This is so far overdue. I've long thought that the combination of the years it takes to make the majors and the pittance that you earn (bonus babies aside) on your way there was a major factor in driving high level athletes into other sports. This could be great for the sport in general.

I always just assumed that there were rules preventing teams from paying their minor league players more. Hearing that is not the case is legitimately astonishing to me.

Apparently going against industry standard was let's say, ahem, significantly frowned upon by other owners in the league? Either way, this seems like a loophole to get around bonus rules that could easily be exploited by a smart team, not necessarily even a large market team. If there are no limit to minor league salaries, what is to stop the Red Sox or Yankees or anyone else from just telling every prospect they want to hold out and sign for under slot value, with the promise of much, much higher salaries during their time in the minors?

Why stop there? Build condos near the park, hire the best chefs and nutritionists. This wouldn't cost a lot given the potential value gained down the road. What am I missing here? Something I'm sure, but I'm not seeing it.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
9,915
We should do this, except at 3x the scale. Create an arms race - literally. At the pace the league moves, that competitive advantage in draft and international signings might last 5-10 years.

(I'll also take this opportunity yet again to post one of my favorite Posnanski thought-pieces: Free the minor leagues! My preferred implementation looks like the global football (soccer) pyramids within each country, except pro/rel between AAA and the majors would appear to be permanently foreclosed. But still, so much to be gained even without that.)
 

Cesar Crespo

79
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
10,538
This is so far overdue. I've long thought that the combination of the years it takes to make the majors and the pittance that you earn (bonus babies aside) on your way there was a major factor in driving high level athletes into other sports. This could be great for the sport in general.

I always just assumed that there were rules preventing teams from paying their minor league players more. Hearing that is not the case is legitimately astonishing to me.

Apparently going against industry standard was let's say, ahem, significantly frowned upon by other owners in the league? Either way, this seems like a loophole to get around bonus rules that could easily be exploited by a smart team, not necessarily even a large market team. If there are no limit to minor league salaries, what is to stop the Red Sox or Yankees or anyone else from just telling every prospect they want to hold out and sign for under slot value, with the promise of much, much higher salaries during their time in the minors?

Why stop there? Build condos near the park, hire the best chefs and nutritionists. This wouldn't cost a lot given the potential value gained down the road. What am I missing here? Something I'm sure, but I'm not seeing it.
The first year they are limited to $1100 a month. After that, it's open for negotiation... I'm looking but I can't find a max. I think it might be $10,000 a month.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,114
Good for the Blue Jays and Ben Cherington if he was a driving force in the change. Hopefully the rest of baseball will be sufficiently shamed by the move that they’ll quickly match it.

You can give everyone on the 24 man roster of an A ball affiliate a $10,000 raise for a total cost of $250,000. Less than Half the full season minimum.

Part of me wonders if this is a move by the owners to go further in the direction of paying players when they’re younger. Doing this voluntarily will generate positive PR for ownership in the next labor showdown if it comes to that.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
6,294
We should do this, except at 3x the scale. Create an arms race - literally. At the pace the league moves, that competitive advantage in draft and international signings might last 5-10 years.

(I'll also take this opportunity yet again to post one of my favorite Posnanski thought-pieces: Free the minor leagues! My preferred implementation looks like the global football (soccer) pyramids within each country, except pro/rel between AAA and the majors would appear to be permanently foreclosed. But still, so much to be gained even without that.)
Well, teams draft player rights, so until they're dealing with minor league free agents this really wouldn't effect who you could get. And you could shell out more for minor league free agents without raising anyone else's pay. Some teams do pay more for them. I think I saw something on fangraphs about the Yankees doing that. You might get on or two more over slot draftees if they knew your org paid well, but it would be rare and the total effect marginal.

I think they should pay more just because it makes sense to invest more in their future and let these kids eat and live decently. The cost is so low to them and the potential upside so high.
 

simplicio

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
Apr 11, 2012
1,342
Good for the Blue Jays and Ben Cherington if he was a driving force in the change. Hopefully the rest of baseball will be sufficiently shamed by the move that they’ll quickly match it.

You can give everyone on the 24 man roster of an A ball affiliate a $10,000 raise for a total cost of $250,000. Less than Half the full season minimum.
Or, for the cost of one Rusney Castillo, you could give every other player in the Red Sox system about $50,000 extra.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
9,915
Well, teams draft player rights, so until they're dealing with minor league free agents this really wouldn't effect who you could get. And you could shell out more for minor league free agents without raising anyone else's pay. Some teams do pay more for them. I think I saw something on fangraphs about the Yankees doing that. You might get on or two more over slot draftees if they knew your org paid well, but it would be rare and the total effect marginal.

I think they should pay more just because it makes sense to invest more in their future and let these kids eat and live decently. The cost is so low to them and the potential upside so high.
Yeah I was thinking mostly about players who drop in the draft due to "signability issues", where teams' bonus pools are largely tapped out, this is a vehicle to partially getting around that - lower everyone else's bonuses a bit, pay them up on the back end, and save more bullets for a few bigger lottery tickets.

But in the scheme of reasons to do this, all of them falling in the "enlightened self-interest" category, you're right, this is probably 2nd to players eating better and having less overwhelming financial stress in their lives as they try to make the most of their burgeoning talents.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
6,294
Yeah I was thinking mostly about players who drop in the draft due to "signability issues", where teams' bonus pools are largely tapped out, this is a vehicle to partially getting around that - lower everyone else's bonuses a bit, pay them up on the back end, and save more bullets for a few bigger lottery tickets.

But in the scheme of reasons to do this, all of them falling in the "enlightened self-interest" category, you're right, this is probably 2nd to players eating better and having less overwhelming financial stress in their lives as they try to make the most of their burgeoning talents.
I would think Major League teams would want to own and control their minor league affiliates too, while giving their players housing, food, training facilities, etc (as many have said), but it looks like the teams like the independent affiliate arrangement for whatever reason. Most likely because they can move around every once in a while if they find a better situation. I think whatever money they save their is nothing compared to the return they could get out of investing in facilities, but it's not like I have those numbers.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,114
Moving this discussion here from the Trout thread:

In the Trout thread, Tims4wins pointed out that Trout’s contract pays him about $12,000 per pitch seen, assuming a full, non-injury season of plate appearances.

On MLB radio this morning, they were talking about this move by the Blue Jays. Apparently, it will raise minor league salaries to about $12,000 — Per YEAR.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,114
Lowest level salaries will double to that amount.

AAA makes about $10K per month already
I think that’s the average, which includes players that got to minor league free agency and a much higher pay for those on the 40-man and the something much more reasonable for those with even 1 day of major league service time. (Which teams can now save a bundle on given the new limitations of minor league call ups in September; wonder if that’s the impetus behind this)

This USA Today article says that a player in their first year of AAA with no major league service time gets $2,150 a month for April- September, plus $25 a day on the road, or roughly $14,000. After 3 years, it goes up to $2,700 a month, but still just for the summer. So, that’s a player like Janzen Witte or Matt Gorst or Dedgar Jimenez.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/ftw.usatoday.com/2017/01/minor-league-baseball-pay-fair-labor-standards-act-minimum-wage-lawsuit-kyle-johnson/amp

If you scroll way down in the article it also shows the comparison between AAA baseball and hockey’s equivalent AHL. It’s stunning.

This article says that if you make the 40 man roster, your salary goes up to about $40,000 a year; and once you get a single day of major league service time, it goes up to a minimum of about $80,000.

http://sportslawblogger.com/baseball/salary-information/minor-league-salary/

It also says there’s a clause that a players minor league salary must be equal to at least 60% of combined major and minor league salary the previous season. So a player that spent a lot of time in the majors the previous year could conceivably be getting $300,000 on a split contract.
 
Last edited:

Lose Remerswaal

Leaves after the 8th inning
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
USA Today says one thing, MLB Fact sheet says

In a fact sheet, MLB listed average pay for minor league players, ranging from $1,300 per month in the lowest A-level leagues, to $10,000 per month in Triple A. MLB also pointed out that players get one-time signing bonuses ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.
No, I don't know if that source is any good. I suspect since it is second hand that is isn't.
 

nvalvo

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
16,722
Rogers Park
Well, teams draft player rights, so until they're dealing with minor league free agents this really wouldn't effect who you could get. And you could shell out more for minor league free agents without raising anyone else's pay. Some teams do pay more for them. I think I saw something on fangraphs about the Yankees doing that. You might get on or two more over slot draftees if they knew your org paid well, but it would be rare and the total effect marginal.

I think they should pay more just because it makes sense to invest more in their future and let these kids eat and live decently. The cost is so low to them and the potential upside so high.
Where this would help would mostly be at the margins in international signings. A lot of the Latin American teens below the top-tier prospects sign for low six figure contracts, including good players: Eduardo Rodriguez signed for $175k, for example.

The bonus expenditures are, as we all know, capped, but there is not a draft, so players choose their destinations.

Let's say you could convince a dozen signees to accept $10k less from you than what other teams were offering, because you paid a higher salary in the minors and the players would come out ahead in terms of bonus + salary by their second year in the minors. You could sign an extra player with your allotment.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
6,294
Where this would help would mostly be at the margins in international signings. A lot of the Latin American teens below the top-tier prospects sign for low six figure contracts, including good players: Eduardo Rodriguez signed for $175k, for example.

The bonus expenditures are, as we all know, capped, but there is not a draft, so players choose their destinations.

Let's say you could convince a dozen signees to accept $10k less from you than what other teams were offering, because you paid a higher salary in the minors and the players would come out ahead in terms of bonus + salary by their second year in the minors. You could sign an extra player with your allotment.
It's possible, and I hope that would happen. But I have doubts that players would know these details, and it's much more likely that the Buscones who act like agents for the players would steer them to who would give the players the largest bonus, since they would likely get no share of minor league salaries, but take a healthy chunk out of the bonuses. It's a sketchy business down there, and MLB has to get more serious about cleaning the system up.
 

nvalvo

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
16,722
Rogers Park
It's possible, and I hope that would happen. But I have doubts that players would know these details, and it's much more likely that the Buscones who act like agents for the players would steer them to who would give the players the largest bonus, since they would likely get no share of minor league salaries, but take a healthy chunk out of the bonuses. It's a sketchy business down there, and MLB has to get more serious about cleaning the system up.
That's a good point about how Buscones are the decision-makers in many cases. That would certainly dampen the impact.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
6,294
That's a good point about how Buscones are the decision-makers in many cases. That would certainly dampen the impact.
I think it does come back to why the salaries are so low. Because there is an infinitesimally small benefit to the teams by raising them from a straight talent acquisition and cost perspective. And also because they got exempted from minimum wage laws, so they can't even be sued over it.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,114
USA Today says one thing, MLB Fact sheet says



No, I don't know if that source is any good. I suspect since it is second hand that is isn't.
They’re using averages. So that AAA number includes Rusney Castillo’s $11 million, plus everyone with 1 day of major league service time getting $80,000.

The other article is giving what a player like Janzen Witte makes.
 

TheStoryofYourRedRightAnkle

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
8,822
Multivac
I was at an interesting presentation today about relocation for baseball players at the Brewers' stadium. In most cases, the players pay all their relocation costs. So if a minor leaguer is promoted, they often shoulder the entire cost of getting to their new destination. The exception was that traded players MAY get their relo costs paid for by the acquiring team.

For that reason, these guys basically live out of suitcases even when they are at "home."
 

RetractableRoof

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 1, 2003
2,479
Quincy, MA
I was at an interesting presentation today about relocation for baseball players at the Brewers' stadium. In most cases, the players pay all their relocation costs. So if a minor leaguer is promoted, they often shoulder the entire cost of getting to their new destination. The exception was that traded players MAY get their relo costs paid for by the acquiring team.

For that reason, these guys basically live out of suitcases even when they are at "home."
That is beyond... I was going to say criminal... but I can't find the better word... nauseating comes to mind. With the dollars involved all over MLB, making a player pay for promotion/demotion relocation is embarrassingly ugly for the MLB teams.
 

mauidano

Mai Tais for everyone!
SoSH Member
Aug 21, 2006
27,977
Maui
As mentioned upthread, my nephew got promoted to Double AA Jackson in the D-backs organization about a month ago. He had to pay for his luggage and gear to be sent over. $200 to the airlines. In reality it costs him more to be in AA than Single A. He has to room with a couple other guys in a cramped apartment. Both of those guys had million dollar contracts. He signed for considerable less and that bonus is gone now. Even though that is a comfort level for them, they still eat at the ballpark, Chick Oil-A, Taco Bell etc. It's infuriating for us to see. Fortunately he is subsidized by his mom and dad to some degree. Think about some of these kids who are playing who have nothing. Yet, let's throw another million dollars to someone to win a Home Run Derby. The system is broken.
 

Twilight

lurker
Nov 17, 2006
43
The relocation is effectively required by the team, so teams should be paying relocation costs similarly to the way that a business has to provide uniforms if the business requires them. Maybe the antitrust exemption allows them to skip out on this as well.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,114
Reading stories like these really make me question why I support Major League Baseball. We’re in an environment where people boycott corporations because some middle manager makes an insensitive twitter post, but shit like this is not impacting MLBs reputation at all.