Soon after Major League Baseball and the minor-league players in the MLB Players Association reached an agreement on a collective bargaining agreement, the players on Friday ratified that agreement. According to the MLBPA, more than 99 percent of players who voted cast ballots in favor of the new agreement. The new CBA is the first in history that will apply to minor-league players. The CBA will have a five-year duration, as is the usual for CBAs in the world of baseball, and will at least double pay at all levels. The agreement will become official once MLB owners vote for formal ratification.
"Every past and present member of the MLBPA is proud today," MLBPA director Tony Clark said in the statement released by the union. "This extraordinary group of Players has been singularly determined, unified, educated, and engaged in the best traditions of our fraternity. Their legacy will live on for decades."
Most significantly, the MLBPA announced that salaries at all minor-league levels will more than double and that the new salaries will be in force immediately. According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, here are the specifics on how the pay structure will change under the CBA:
- Complex league: from $4,800 per year up to $19,800
- Low-A: $11,000 to $26,200
- High-A: $11,000 to $27,300
- AA: $13,800 to $30,250
- AAA: $17,500 to $35,800
Additionally, Passan notes that players will be paid "almost year-round." Minor-league players were previously not paid during the offseason or spring training. Being paid a livable wage, and being paid on a year-round basis were major points of contention for minor-league players in the past. Passan adds that MLB's Domestic Reserve List will be reduced 15 spots, from 180 to 165 players, beginning with the 2024 season.
Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports on other facets of the agreement:
- MLB has agreed not to reduce the number of affiliated minor-league teams during the life of the CBA. However, MLB was already barred from this because of their agreement with minor-league team owners.
- A joint drug agreement and domestic violence policy, such as what's in place in the majors, has been agreed upon.
- Minor-league players have NIL rights, and the MLBPA will undertake licensing agreements on their behalf.
- On the housing front, players in the high minors -- i.e., Double- and Triple-A -- will get their own bedrooms. Players at the Low- and High-A levels can receive a bedroom or choose instead to receive a housing stipend. Spouses and children of players will also have access to housing paid for by the club.
- Minor-league players who sign with an MLB organization at age 19 or older will now be under team control for six years instead of seven, which was previously the case.
- Transportation to and from the game venue is now guaranteed for players at the Low- and High-A levels.
- Players will be compensated during offseason training periods, and dead periods will also be built into the offseason calendar.
Minor-league players voted to unionize last September. At the time, Clark said the following:
I applaud this extraordinary group of young Players and welcome them to the MLBPA.
The historic achievement required the right group of Players and the right moment to succeed. Minor Leaguers have courageously seized that moment, and we look forward to improving their terms and conditions of employment through the process of good faith collective bargaining.
I also want to acknowledge the tireless efforts of Harry Marino and the dedicated group he led at Advocates for Minor Leaguers, without whom this historic organizing campaign would not have been possible.
The minor-league season begins on Friday, with Triple-A clubs opening up their schedules.