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Elephant Rumblings: Minor league life can be a major pain

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Good morning, Athletics Nation!

As MLB owners and players duke it out for the big bucks, more light is being shed on the plight of minor league players, who struggle to get by on sub-poverty seasonal pay for the incredible amount of effort required to train and compete for a career in the big leagues. Brittany Ghiroli wrote a highly illuminating piece about the struggles of minor league players chasing their dreams that was published in The Athletic yesterday.

Ghiroli details the travails of several present and former minor leaguers who have worked full time playing baseball during the season for less than minimum wage, and then practiced and trained full-time during the offseason — which is essential to staying competitive in the modern game — for no pay at all. Multiple odd jobs may be required to make ends meet, and since players must remain fully committed to the sport in order to keep their hopes alive, some must labor through short-term employment with low pay and dangerous conditions to pay the bills.

Aiden McIntyre, a pitcher in the A’s system, told The Athletic, “It’s a year-round job and if you don’t treat it that way most likely you won’t make it, ... Each year organizations expect players to return in better shape (with) improved skill sets.”

MLB doesn’t even pay MiLB players for Spring Training, even though it would cost each organization less than $500,000 to do so. Trevor Hildenberger, who was drafted by the Twins in the 22nd round in 2014 and is now a pitcher with the Giants, put it this way to The Athletic: “It took me a long time to realize that your organization does not care about you or your family or (your) well being.”

For the MLB suggestion box: Show that you care about minor league players, their families, and their well being. Pay a living wage for their year-round hard work and dedication. Former No. 1 overall draft pick Mark Appel, who has spent his whole career in the minors since 2013, suggested a blueprint for sensible and mutually beneficial change in a Twitter thread, based around the three pillars of housing, food, and offseason training.

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