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MLB commissioner under fire for Minor League pay comments

Yahoo Finance’s Josh Schafer joins the Live show to discuss MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s comments on Minor League pay.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

BRIAN CHEUNG: Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred under fire for a callous response to the issue of Minor League pay. Here with more, Josh Schafer, Yahoo Finance. Tell us a little more about exactly what he said. These remarks came yesterday in lieu of that all-star game yesterday. I mean, a lot of these Minor League players, they don't get paid all that well, do they?

JOSH SCHAFER: No. So he was asked very directly, owners-- can owners not afford to pay Minor Leaguers, or do they just not want to? And he sort of took question with the entire question. He said, you know, I don't like the premise of that question. And then he sort of just walked his way around it and said, well, it's been getting better. I think if it's been getting better, it's probably still not good enough.

And we can look at sort of some of the numbers here. A Minor Leaguer right now, if you have no Major League experience, makes between $4,800 and $14,700. And so they actually just settled a lawsuit four days ago, a class action lawsuit for over 20,000 players that totaled $185 million. And it had to do with overtime pay and these players not getting paid enough.

Then, four days later, the commissioner comes out and says, well, I think we're doing pretty good in that field. And I think that sort of rubbed people the wrong way because the courts said something different. And to kind of touch on what the Minor League life is like a little bit, guys, I've been out and done these stories before. And you talk to these Minor Leaguers. They're out all summer.

So I understand they're professional athletes. Of course, this is a big industry. But they basically have 15 days off the entire summer. So you could call it seasonal. You could say, well, you don't deserve a full salary. But they're out on buses. They sleep on buses. They eat at fast food stops. They don't live this luxurious professional sports life that some other sports do.

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, and that's part of the issue, right? There's such a divide between the Minor and the Majors.

JOSH SCHAFER: Mm-hmm, yeah, I mean, the MLB, we can pull up the revenue right now, the MLB made over $10 billion in revenue in 2019. You can see that dip at the end there is the pandemic, obviously. But revenue has been up and to the right for Major League Baseball.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Now, this is kind of a bad look when you see players like Juan Soto, right, getting tossed $440 million contracts, which, by the way, he turned down. So would there be an incentive, though, from Rob Manfred's view, to make that parity a little bit more even? I mean, I guess the other argument is that, well, Minor League is supposed to be you proving yourself to make it up and get called up to the Major Leagues to make the big bucks. But I mean, as you mentioned, this disparity right now seems to be pretty untenable.

JOSH SCHAFER: The biggest reason they should really care about it is the MLBPA cares about it. And we saw that in negotiations this offseason with the CBA, right? And that's going to come up again and again. The MLBPA cares about the Minor Leaguers, so the MLB should, too.

BRIAN CHEUNG: All right, Yahoo Finance's Josh Schafer, thanks so much.