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Elephant Rumblings: A’s not paying players for extended spring training

MLB news roundup

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Oakland Athletics Spring Training Workout

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

In the wake of yesterday’s spectacularly dispiriting loss to the Mariners, today seems like a fitting day to take stock of what we like—and don’t like—about the Oakland Athletics in 2022.

Let’s start with the easier part: what’s not to like about the A’s.

That last point isn’t talked about often, but sadly it is not too surprising. Grinding in the minor leagues is tough. Some incremental gains have been made thanks in part to efforts by the non-profit Advocates for Minor Leaguers. In the past couple of years, most organizations have acquiesced to pressure to pay players for extended spring training, a period in between regular Spring Training and the minor league season in which participants carry an extra heavy workload of training and playing games.

But as Evan Drellich at The Athletic reported yesterday, the A’s are one of just five holdouts that are still not paying for extended spring training. The other four include the Angels, Brewers, Marlins, and Reds.

Drellich spoke with a number of players who detailed their struggles to keep up with the demands of playing and training while only being paid for about three months of the year. Some minor-leaguers struggle with poverty and even food insecurity. Some quit baseball altogether—these pressures on many players in the minor leagues could be a force of attrition in the talent pool that keeps the game alive.

The matter of pay for extended spring training is part of a class-action lawsuit, Senne vs. the Commissioner’s Office, which is in settlement talks and may result in an agreement to pay for minor league players’ efforts outside of the regular season both prospectively and retroactively.

The refusal of MLB organizations to pay fair wages to minor-leaguers is exploitative and disgraceful, and as of today, the A’s are among the worst offenders. They could make a huge difference by sending the $9 million in revenue sharing the organization is getting this year to support their minor-league players. That’s less than a year of Billy Butler! But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The A’s did not respond to The Athletic’s requests for comment on the story.

So what’s to like about the A’s in 2022? Well, speaking for myself: they’re still the green-and-gold-clad team I’ve loved all my life, in large part because they are the closest MLB team to my birthplace, which is Stockton. The franchise has a rich history and many past successes. I love almost all of the players; they may be terrible as a team, but that is almost entirely the fault of ownership.

They also have the best fans in all of baseball! But that’s about all I’ve got right now. How about you?

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We sure could use another rookie like this one.