MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred defended the league’s antitrust exemption in a 17-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday. In the letter, Manfred said that MLB’s antitrust exemption “meaningfully improved the lives of Minor League players.”
The letter comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee requested more information about the MLB’s antitrust exemption in July. The committee is looking at how the league’s antitrust waiver affects a number of areas of the game, including working conditions for minor league players.
Manfred touched on the topic in a letter Friday, arguing that the antitrust exemption is good for minor league players and that it helped bring baseball to communities “that could not economically support a professional baseball team.”
Manfred argued that baseball would be less accessible and more expensive for fans if the antitrust exception were repealed.
“Without the exemption, there would be a baseball game in far fewer communities, and without the big MLB support, the cost of attending a minor league baseball game would be much higher in many places.”
MLB received criticism from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in 2021 after the league cut 40 minor league teams as part of the minor league reorganization. Sanders routinely did I spoke against Manfred and MLB.
However, Sanders is not part of the committee looking into MLB’s antitrust exemption. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin chairs the committee, which also includes Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Utah Senator Mike Lee. Durbin and Blumenthal are members of the Democratic Party and Grassley and Lee represent the two republics, making it a bipartisan group.
Manfred also argued that the league spends “$108,000 on a per capita basis on Minor League player compensation and benefits.” He noted that 58 percent of minor league players receive bonuses of at least $100,000. Players who don’t receive these bonuses, “generally will have very short baseball careers and move on to other jobs in their early twenties, and are really seasonal employees who are free to get other jobs or continue their education during a recession,” says Manfred.
The MLB considers junior workers to be temporary or seasonal workers. Minor League players are not compensated during baseball season, and are made as Less than $3,000 to $7,500 In one year in 2015. The salaries of the minor leagues have increased since then, but many players still Fail to make minimum wage. The antitrust exemption prevents minor league players from playing baseball elsewhere to increase their income.
Manfred said minor league players receive health, housing, meals and tuition benefits, which, he said, “are benefits not available to most college-age employees in this country when they enter the labor market.” Manfred said he believes players could lose out on those benefits if the MLB antitrust exemption is rescinded.
Rob Manfred criticized his comments about the conditions of the minor league
Harry Marino, CEO of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, called some of Manfred’s arguments “surprising” in a statement to Yahoo Sports.
“When it comes to the impact of baseball’s antitrust exemption on minor league players and fans, Major League Baseball can’t correct its story.
“Just nine days ago, Commissioner Rob Manfred said, ‘I can’t think of a place where an exemption would be really helpful, other than moving the franchise.’” This morning, Manfred said the opposite, claiming that baseball’s exemption “has improved the lives of Minor League players. , including their terms and conditions of employment, and enabled Minor League affiliate operators to offer professional baseball in certain communities that otherwise could not economically support a professional baseball team.
“Simply put, both statements cannot be true. With MLB continuing to pay most Minor League players at a poverty level and recently eliminating 40 Minor League teams, the positions they have taken today are surprising — to say the least. We intend to conduct a review. It is comprehensive of the many allegations set forth in today’s 17-page letter and will respond substantially in the coming days.”
Marino said the minor leagues’ defenders will review Manfred’s letter and issue additional responses over the next few days.