The plight of minor league players has been a growing issue over the past few years. Just last year, MLB settled a lawsuit brought by players in 2014 that showed minor league salaries were below minimum wage laws. The suit cost Major League Baseball $185-million and helped lead to the formation of a union and negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement that got underway last November. The agreement was agreed to in principle Wednesday night and will cover five years, going into effect when it is ratified by both sides.

The minor league baseball season begins tomorrow and MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) had set Friday as a soft deadline for getting a deal done. There was never a possibility of a strike or lockout, but the sides did want to get the deal out of the way prior to the start of the season.

Financially, the deal will provide somewhat substantial increases for minor league players that begin immediately and will include a retroactive pay of four weeks to cover spring training.

Complex and Rookie$4,800$19,800
Single A$11,000$26,200

The upgrades are expected to cost MLB approximately $90-million a year and are paid by each individual club and not by the minor league affiliate teams.

In addition to salary, the new CBA – which must still be ratified by the players and MLB owners – calls for other changes.

  • Players who sign at age 19 or older will be under reserve to the parent club for six years rather than seven. The change is not retroactive for current players who signed at age 19 or older.
  • Housing: Players will be provided with their own bedrooms at the Double and Triple-A levels. Player’s wives and children will also be accommodated while playing at home.
  • The creation of a joint clubhouse nutrition committee to oversee meal quality and provide increases in per diem.
  • A committee for feedback on rule changes that are implemented in the minors by MLB.
  • A joint drug agreement and domestic violence policy.
  • Players receive Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights to receive compensation for marketing endorsements.
  • In certain circumstances, players will now have the right to a second opinion for medical issues.
  • MLB agreed to not instituting any minor league contraction during the length of the agreement.

MLB was compelled to get a deal done for three primary reasons: Players were speaking publicly about pay and other conditions in the minors, and Congress was again kicking around the idea of looking into the league’s antitrust agreement. Finally, the MLBPA mailed out authorization cards to minor league players in late August of last year.