With Major League Baseball and the Players Association still at a standstill on Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, fighting through the media is an often used tactic to gain some leverage. This is why fans tend to get such a detailed look at each and every proposal.
In MLB’s most recent offer — given Saturday and immediately rejected — there were plenty of minor details that found their way to the forefront of national conversation given the subject matter. However, nothing has received more scrutiny than their proposal regarding Minor League rosters.
MLB owners reportedly asked for the ability to cut down Minor League roster sizes in a predictable attempt to recoup financial losses in other areas, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN:
Major League Baseball asked for the ability to eliminate hundreds of minor league playing jobs in its latest labor offer to the MLB Players Association, sources familiar with the proposal told ESPN.
Currently, the Domestic Reserve List — which governs the number of minor league players a team can roster at any time — is at 180. The league proposed keeping the number at 180 for 2022 but allowing the commissioner’s office to reduce the maximum number of players to as few as 150 over the rest of the collective bargaining agreement, sources said. The proposal says the league could adjust the reserve list’s size “up or down.”
By itself, this proposal already shows MLB’s shameless attempts to increase financial flexibility. However, it’s even worse when considering all of the recent controversy surrounding the treatment of Minor League players. In fact, a recent piece described the grueling efforts of Minor League players to survive in months where the go unpaid by MLB.
Britt Ghiroli of The Athletic spoke to several Minor League players who are forced to take multiple offseason jobs and live out of their cars all in an attempt to save money for training and other necessities.
“It’s not even remotely optimal: physically, mentally or emotionally,” said Rennie of being paid only during the five months of a minor-league season. “It doesn’t make sense why we can’t be paid year-round for a year-round job. We are making pennies. What is $6,000 more when we make $8,000 during the year? It’s frustrating, it’s a systematic issue and I don’t understand how it’s gone on this long.”
Both the league and the Players Association have made several topics non-negotiable in CBA debates. And while Minor League-related issues have not been explicitly brought up in this way, it’s clear the players will not allow any proposal that worsens opportunities for Minor League players.
Angels farm system ranked No. 23
The Los Angeles Angels are a team that has been specifically cited in terms of poor treatment of Minor League players. They have also been towards the bottom of the league in their farm system rankings for several years. For 2022, they came in at No. 23, signaling a slight trend upwards from where they’ve been in recent seasons.