MLB antitrust exemption hearing: How minor league players are paid

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The Senate Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing on Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption as it relates to the employment of players in the minor leagues.

There are two categories of minor league players: those with major league contracts on 40-man rosters, who are represented by the Major League Baseball Players Association, and those with minor league contracts, who are not unionized.

Those with major league contracts who are in the minor leagues on optional or outright assignments have a minimum salary this year of $57,200 for the six-month season if playing under a first major league contract, and $114,100 if playing under a second or later major league contract. The vast majority of players in this category are playing at Triple-A, many of them shuttling back and forth to the major leagues. If called up to the majors, the minimum salary is $700,000 — which comes to $3,846 for each day in the big leagues.

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Quad Cities River Bandits players warm up before a Class-A Midwest League baseball game against the Cedar Rapids Kernels in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to explain the impact of potential legislation stripping the sport’s antitrust exemption from covering the sport’s relationship with minor league players.

Quad Cities River Bandits players warm up before a Class-A Midwest League baseball game against the Cedar Rapids Kernels in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to explain the impact of potential legislation stripping the sport’s antitrust exemption from covering the sport’s relationship with minor league players. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

The minimum salary is $400 weekly at rookie level, $500 at Class A, $600 at Double-A and $700 at Triple-A. Major League Baseball says 63% of players on opening day minor league rosters this year had salaries above the minimum and players also receive health care, tuition assistance, housing, meals and per diem during the season.

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Among residents of the U.S. and Canada, who are subject to baseball’s draft, amateurs signing initial minor league contracts receive signing bonuses, most $20,000 and up. First-round picks last year received $7,922,000 to $1.8 million, and players among the top 75 selections received at least $747,500. About 95 players received under $20,000 each from among the roughly 740 draft-eligible players who signed.

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Among residents of other nations, who are international amateur free agents, the 43 highest bonuses last year were $1 million or more. There were 370 players among roughly 520 signing who received signing bonuses of $20,000 or more and about 150 who received under $20,000.