As a whole, Major League Baseball has a long way to go when it comes to its treatment and compensation of minor leaguers, but the Phillies are actually doing better than most.
Advocates for Minor Leaguers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group working to unionize the minor leagues and educate baseball fans and the world about the unfair conditions of Milb. On Sunday, as the four-game series between the Phillies and Mets was coming to a close, they tweeted this infographic:
In 2021, Forbes did its annual estimation of the franchise value of each MLB team. The Yankees remain on top, but Steve Cohen had purchased the Mets for $2.42 billion, a new MLB record. The Mets placed sixth on the list, and the Phillies were below them at eighth, valued just above $2 billion.
Of course, the Mets are far from the only team to mistreat their minor leaguers; every team, including the Phillies, could and should be paying their prospects more. After all, these are your future stars. Wouldn’t they develop better and faster into major leaguers if they could focus on the game rather than finances and living conditions?
The Phillies are one of the only teams taking care of their minor leaguers.
There have been many shameful stories lately about how MLB teams have treated their affiliates. On June 22, Advocates revealed that there were minor leaguers who had not been paid in over nine months. The Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A affiliate Bowie Baysox were put on the hot seat after players said they were planning on sleeping in their cars, and the Cubs-affiliated Myrtle Beach Pelicans had a situation where players were planning to sleep in the locker room because the team hotel was sold out, and they were told they were “on their own.”
Earlier this month, numerous teams were aired out for not paying their minor leaguers for extended spring training. After Advocates tweeted about it, the San Francisco Giants agreed to change their policy and give out backpay. The Phillies are currently the only team in the NL East paying for extended spring training.
But the Mets have certainly been among the most callous teams. In February 2020, it was revealed that they had spent $57 million renovating their spring training facilities in St. Lucie, Florida. Unfortunately, the gorgeous clubhouse was only for major leaguers, because apparently, minor leaguers need to be motivated. You would think that the terrible pay and conditions would be motivation enough.
Then, in May 2020, during the height of the pandemic, the Mets cut 39 minor leaguers. This was after the cancellation of the minor-league season. A multi-billion-dollar organization opted to save $15,600 per week, knowing full well that due to the canceled season, it would be nearly impossible for these players to find new teams or even non-baseball jobs.
Most minor leaguers make less than $10,000 per year, well below the poverty line. They are expected to participate in their franchise’s spring training but are not paid while they are there. Out of their meager salaries, they pay club dues for expenses like uniform laundering. Major leaguers pay that too, but of course, they can all afford it, as the major-league minimum is well over $500,000.
Minor leaguers are expected to work as hard – if not harder – than their major-league counterparts, but they are not compensated as such. They’re considered professional athletes, but they aren’t treated like human beings. While major leaguers have access to the best nutritionists and trainers, minor leaguers are lucky to get PB&J sandwiches in the clubhouse. Often, to save money, minor leaguers, full-grown men, will cram into 1-bedroom apartments, sleeping on air mattresses. Instead of being given the tools to succeed and rise up in their organizations, minor leaguers must succeed despite the conditions and challenges thrown at them.
So yes, the Phillies might not be a very watchable team at the major-league level right now, but in this area, they’re miles ahead of the first-place Mets and many others.