Rob Manfred adamant MLB has ‘made real strides in the past few years’ in paying minor leaguers

LOS ANGELES — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he “declines[s] the “premise” that minor-league players are not paid a living wage, sparking a spate of criticism a day after the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a letter asking about the treatment of minor-league players.

When asked if the owners can’t afford to pay minor leagues anymore or just choose not to, Manfred said, “I sort of dismiss the premise of the question that minor league players aren’t paid a living wage. We’ve made real progress over the past few years in terms of paying minor league players, even aside from the signing bonuses that many of them have already received. I don’t know what else to say about that.”

In a follow-up, Manfred reiterated, “I reject the premise that they are not being paid a living wage.”

While minor league salaries have risen in recent seasons and teams are tasked with providing housing for the first time this year, the majority of minor league player salaries are below the poverty line. Players who aren’t on the 40-man roster or have major league experience are paid anywhere from $4,800 to $14,700 annually and are only paid during the season, leaving many to supplement their off-season income while trying to to prepare for the next year.

“Most minor league baseball players have part-time jobs because their annual salary isn’t enough to make ends meet,” said Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers. “The commissioner earns an annual salary of $17.5 million. His suggestion that minor league pay is acceptable is both callous and wrong.”

Earlier this week, MLB settled a $185 million class action lawsuit brought by minor leagues alleging minimum wage and overtime violations by teams. The settlement, which covers more than 20,000 players, will award more than $120 million to the group and asks MLB to allow teams to pay minor league players during spring training, extended spring training and in the apprentice leagues .

The judiciary’s letter to Manfred on Monday questioned the need for the league’s centuries-old antitrust exemption, particularly with regard to the smaller leagues. It also considered corruption in Latin America, a relevant issue with a July 25 deadline for MLB and the MLB Players Association to agree on a framework for an international draft. Rob Manfred adamant MLB has ‘made real strides in the past few years’ in paying minor leaguers

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