Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Minor-leaguers get paid stupid low amounts

From Twitter:

In theory I knew that minor-leaguers did not make an awful lot of money, but I did not know how startlingly low this number was. Let's put this into context:

*Unless you are Jon Singleton, you will make $2,200 per month to play Triple-A baseball in Fresno. This works out to be $550/week.

*Double-A players make $450/week.

*High-A players make $375/week.

*Low-A players make $325/week.

And they have to provide their own lodging during the season. And feed themselves a couple of times a day. And this is all they make from baseball during the entire year. So from September-March (provided they're not at minor-league camp), minor-leaguers have to not only keep their fitness level up but they have to get jobs to supplement this meager income and - in many cases, their families.

Sure! you might say! But they get to play baseball! you might say! And that's true, but just because you get to pursue a lifelong dream does not mean you should have to live below the poverty line. In 2012 the government set the poverty line for a family of four at $23,050/year. That's $443/week.

It's a pretty sorry indictment of the economics of baseball. You look at players signing massive free agent contracts (please do not try to figure out how many innings it will take Zack Greinke to make what you make in a year - it will only depress the hell out of you) and think that baseball's economics are broken, and you might be right. But they're broken on the other end, too.  Baseball will reward the players who perform well enough to make it to the majors, but it's such a low percentage. The far higher percentage of baseball players are the guys who will try like hell to make it, not make it, and end up in a far worse spot.

There are 26 players on the active roster at Fresno (listed today); 31 at Corpus; 31 at Lancaster; 27 at Quad Cities. Just for the sake of numbers, let's isolate these cases and leave the Short-Season affiliates alone for now. That's 115 players - not counting anyone who might be on the DL, etc.

WARNING: SIMPLIFIED MATH AHEAD: The cost of allotting payroll to Fresno (just going by the numbers listed above) is $286,000 for the 2016 season. Corpus? $279,000. Lancaster? $232,500. Quad Cities? $175,500. This is a total of $973,000.

If the Astros were to put just an extra $1m - and this does not seem like much money to me, mainly because it's not my money - they could double the salaries of their minor-league players. While $650/week for a player at Quad Cities still doesn't cover what the player would need to make from September-March, it at least helps them do things like eat, pay rent, etc., for the time that the player is in the Astros' care.

And this doesn't address the PR benefits that would come from being the first organization to act like they give a crap about the health and well-being of the players they are trying to develop. Do it, Astros! Let me tell you how to spend your money!