We need to talk about MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
This weekend, leading up to the all-star festivities, Rob Manfred took a break from his full-time job of not marketing Mike Trout in order to make some hilariously disconnected comments to Hannah Keyser of Yahoo! Sports.
When asked if MLB owners don’t pay minor leaguers a living wage because they can’t afford to, or because they aren’t interested in doing so, Manfred responded by “rejecting the premise” of the question, and pointing to recent raises, signing bonuses, and housing.
Rob Manfred rejecting the premise of a question about minor league compensation is pretty rich, considering just how rich the commissioner is. On the day he answered this question, he pocketed his daily salary of nearly $48,000, AKA about four times the minimum annual salary of a AAA baseball player, and ten times the annual salary of someone in single A.
“Living Wage” isn’t a buzz word. It has a literal definition, and it varies from state to state. Take the Charlotte Knights, for example. The Chicago White Sox AAA team in Charlotte pays a minimum of $700 a week to its players, but based on cost of living calculations, someone working in Charlotte would need to be making $750 per week to support a one-person household.
Rob Manfred claims that free housing alleviates that issue, but a minor league season is only 3-4 months long. What are the players that make up the foundation of the game you’re in charge of supposed to do for the rest of the year?
Surveys have shown that nearly 50% of minor leaguers are working a second job. If minor leaguers can’t make what they need to survive as a professional baseball player, or at the very least be able to fund the pursuit of the baseball dream, it puts the entire future of the league at risk.
Maybe Rob Manfred isn’t sympathetic to the idea of paying minor leaguers enough to focus on one job because Rob Manfred has deep, personal knowledge that being paid handsomely to do something, like run baseball, doesn’t mean that you actually know what you’re doing.
Let that sink in.