Happy Wednesday, Athletics Nation!
Most of you should know that baseball is, economically speaking, very much a winner-take-all affair. A handful of stars like our own dearly departed Matt Olson get nine-figure contracts while a far greater number of aspirants in the minor leagues work for sub-poverty wages under grueling conditions. But yesterday, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reported that MiLB players notched a significant court victory that may set a positive precedent going forward.
Federal Judge Joseph Spiro of the Northern District of California ruled that minor league players are year-round employees and that MLB is a joint employer with the franchises. As such, the league was essentially held liable for unpaid wages in the offseason and during spring training. Spiro awarded over $1.8 million in damages to the minor league players who filed suit against MLB in 2014.
This ruling could further expose both the league and franchises to future judgements: Spiro also found that minor-leaguers perform “work” during spring training in Arizona and Florida. The damages awarded yesterday were specific only to a California claim, and the matter is going to trial in Arizona this June, where further monetary penalties could be assessed in the players’ favor.
The non-profit Steering Committee of Advocates for Minor Leaguers praised the decision:
“For decades, minor league players have worked long hours year-round in exchange for poverty-level wages. Working as a professional baseball player requires far more than just playing baseball games. It also requires hours of year-round training, practice, and preparation, for which we have never been properly compensated. We are thrilled with today’s ruling, which is an enormous step toward holding MLB accountable for its longstanding mistreatment of Minor League players.”
Most serendipitously, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the same day that hope for improved fortunes among minor-leaguers emerged in the California legislature yesterday. State Senator Josh Becker introduced the “Minor League Baseball Players’ Bill of Rights.” If enacted, the legislation would limit minor league contracts to four years instead of up to seven, enabling players to enter free agency sooner. The bill also contains provisions that would allow players to sell rights to their names, likenesses, and images; Becker cited a 2019 law that affords NCAA athletes in California similar rights as a precedent that should extend to MiLB players.
I’m happy that Matt Olson got his due, while sad he had to leave Oakland for it. But let’s not forget those striving just to get a shot in the big leagues. Players, coaches, fans, and anyone else who cares about baseball or the value and dignity of every worker—which ought to include every single person—should give full support to the dreamers grinding away in the minors.
- Hall: Latest A’s trade rumors: Chapman, Manaea, Montas, Laureano
- Adams: Braves Sign Matt Olson To Eight-Year Contract
- Bowden: Takeaways on 8 big post-lockout trades and signings, including the Matt Olson and Chris Bassitt deals ($)
- Shea: Day after A’s trade, Matt Olson gets historic $168 million deal with Braves ($)
- O’Brien: Matt Olson trade to Braves signals end of Freddie Freeman era in Atlanta: ‘It’s a tough deal’ ($)
- Kawahara: Shoulder issue sets James Kaprielian 2 weeks behind as A’s camp opens ($)
- Kawahara: How the A’s aim to build up their pitchers during 2022’s short spring training ($)
- Shea: California bill could benefit minor-leaguers, including Giants and A’s farmhands ($)
- Brisbee: Why it makes sense for the Giants to trade for the A’s Sean Murphy (and why it won’t happen) ($)
MLB News & Interest:
- Hall: MLB transactions update: Rizzo, McHugh, Olson extension with Braves
- McDonald: Unvaccinated Mets And Yankees Not Currently Allowed To Play Home Games
- Drellich: Judge rules minor league players are MLB employees throughout year and are owed damages ($)
- Nightengale: Padres stay aggressive and enter bidding war for free agent first baseman Freddie Freeman
- Adams: Red Sox [and Rays] Reportedly Showing Interest In Freddie Freeman
- Adams: Astros Step Up Efforts To Re-Sign Carlos Correa
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter:
Lockard reminisces ...
Olson was the guy they kept (at one point, he jokingly asked David Forst to stop trading all his friends), and he became a centerpiece for the next wave of playoff teams. His decade in the organization was like a mini-oral history of the Beane era of A's baseball.— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) March 15, 2022
... and draws a hopeful parallel.
There have been ups and downs for the organization with the drafts since then, but the excitement around the 2021 class in the org. is similar to what you heard after the 2012 draft.— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) March 15, 2022
Not baseball related per se, but having strong feelings about this I’ve gotta say Melissa is on a roll!
I see we're legislating daylight savings, but since time is just an arbitrary construct, why not make it always 5pm on Friday?— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) March 15, 2022
The Braves on nabbing Oly. Sigh.
Happy belated, Townie!
Aw c’mon I know we can get at least 70! Our FO cobbles together rotations like magic!
A's projected W/L: 66.5-95.5 (last place, only ahead of BAL in AL)— Steve Berman (@BASportsGuy) March 15, 2022
Giants projected W/L: 79.1-82.9 (third place, about 3 games up on AZ) https://t.co/wTv77XPC6I
Pache’s PR skills are improving with each tweet!
I'm more excited to show the A's and their fans that I can be a great player for them and help make them a better team. https://t.co/fVhtuAqdsR— Cristian Pache (@cristianpache25) March 15, 2022
A new number 20.
Cristian Pache has a locker in the A’s spring clubhouse, looks like he’ll have No. 20, last worn by Mark Canha.— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 15, 2022
Over/under on this being the last footage of these two in green and gold?
J-Hey dishes on J-Hay’s payday.
Josh Harrison, White Sox— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 15, 2022
$5,500,000/2022 opt 2023.
$4,000,000 - 2022
Club option 2023 for $5,500,000 or $1,500,000 buyout.
BASE IN 2023 INCREASES BY:
$125,000 each for 400pa; 450pa; 500pa; 550pa in 2022.
[MAXIMUM INCREASE OF $500,000]
No words, really. Just emptiness. But good luck, CBass.