Minor leaguers for A’s, four others haven’t been paid for months, can’t afford to eat

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How are minor-league players that aren’t being paid to do their job supposed to be able to afford food, exactly? The A’s, Brewers, Angels, Marlins, and Reds have decided it’s simply not their problem to solve, according to Advocates for Minor Leaguers and this report from The Athletic’s Evan Drellich. Those five clubs are the ones still refusing to pay their minor leaguers in extended spring training, and the result of that is it costing these players money to work.

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Some MLB owners are mad at the A’s. And?

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​It was pretty clear that what the A’s did with their offseason was egregious even as it was happening. In reaction to winning 86 games in 2021, having the postseason expand from 10 to 12 clubs, and being authorized to receive revenue-sharing payments once again under the new collective bargaining agreement, Oakland started trading away its desirable players making more than the minimum salary. Oh, and they also kept raising their ticket prices, too. Maybe they thought all that salt in the wound would cauterize it.

It’s all bad enough that now you’ve got a few anonymous MLB owners leaking to Jon Heyman that the A’s behavior bothers them:

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One orioles Owner is suing other Orioles owners

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It’s good to keep an eye on potential movements in MLB’s ownership class, since these are the people with the power to make things more tolerable, or, more likely, even worse for the members of the Players Association, or the minor-league players still in a state of nascent, non-union-for-now organizing. With that in mind, let’s check out what’s going on in Baltimore, where one Angelos brother is suing the other Angelos brother, and also their mother:

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An expanded postseason means reduced effort

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Obviously, it’s a little too early to say for sure that increasing the number of teams that can make the MLB postseason will never increase the in-season level of competition for those spots. But, as I wrote at Baseball Prospectus on Wednesday, the early returns aren’t looking even a little bit promising.

In the new collective bargaining agreement reached between the league and the Players Association in March, the postseason expanded from 10 teams to 12. This was expected, as MLB’s desire for a larger postseason was one of the major points of leverage the union had coming into negotiations, and it was considered a win that the PA was able to avoid giving the league what they actually were looking for, which was a 14-team arrangement. And thank Baseba’al for that, because if you think the laissez-faire attitude of the league towards building competitive teams is bad now, just imagine how much worse it could be.

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Advocates for Minor Leaguers released progress reports for MLB’s treatment of MiLB players

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Major League Baseball has continued giving in to the demands of Advocates for Minor Leaguers and the players they’re, well, advocating for, and it is a lovely thing to see in action. Advocacy works, it turns out, as MLB fears two things: the public being aware of the way they treat minor-league players with any more detail than they already have, and those same minor-league players finally getting together to organize into a union or unions that will get their rights in writing. So yeah, Advocates and the players are in a position to keep making noise about how things aren’t ideal yet. And the results have been excellent.

Consider this: at the end of January, Advocates for Minor Leaguers demanded, with the backing of players they spoke to on the matter, changes to MLB’s new housing policy, which was created without any input from the people it was for and would be affecting. They identified loopholes that existed to cut costs for teams and would be negatives for the players — such as throwing multiple players into bedrooms together like they were in college dorms — and stated that they would be publicly identifying the teams throughout the season that failed to make the changes the players demanded to the system.

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Reminders of the power imbalance between MLB’s teams, prospects

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Kumar Rocker has finally signed. No, not with a Major League Baseball team, but with the independent Tri-City Valley Cats. The former Vanderbilt ace had to go this route because, last summer, the Mets drafted him and then essentially refused to sign him, as they attempted to lowball him due to injury concerns and refused to actually negotiate with their first-round pick.

The Mets were able to do this knowing that they would have a second first-round pick waiting for them in the 2022 draft as compensation for not signing Kumar. So long as their offer is worth at least 40 percent of the slot value for where the player was selected, the club remains eligible for this compensation. While the initial report said that the Mets didn’t make a formal offer to Rocker at all, they’re listed as having the 11th-overall pick in the 2022 amateur entry draft, and it being marked as compensation — clearly, they did make an offer, even if it was as equivalently serious to not making one at all.

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The FBI is now involved in the Angels’ stadium land deal

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We know that, inherently, deals for brand new stadiums that use taxpayer dollars and are constructed on lies about how much value they’ll bring to the community are shady affairs. Usually it’s the legal kind of shady, though, where a team can say whatever they want in their proposal to the city and then, in the vast majority of cases, the city’s governing bodies will vigorously nod along so as not to be the one responsible for losing team X to location Y over a few measly hundreds of millions of dollars that could have gone toward actual infrastructure or schools instead of some mustache-twirling robber baron.

Not so with the Angels’ current stadium machinations, though! It should be pointed out that it’s not Arte Moreno and the Angels who we’re pointing fingers at today, either. Apparently, the mayor of Anaheim, Harry Sidhu, is now being investigated by the FBI for public corruption, and a land deal with the Angels is part of that.

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Round-up: MLB gambling rules, crypto freefall

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The relationship between major sports leagues and sports booking keeps getting closer and closer, which means new rules are necessary to police said relationship. As coverage of the game, both written and in video and in the broadcasts themselves, sees gambling and a gambler’s mindset further fused with every existing atom, adjustments need to be made in order to keep some kind of equilibrium.

So, that’s how it was discovered earlier this week that MLB and the Players Association had a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement designed to address fans who take their gambling losses and desires out on the players just trying to play baseball. MLive’s Evan Woodberry tweeted about it prior to an Astros/Tigers game, saying:

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Senne v. MLB reached settlement, but the fight goes on

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It has been years and years already, but we finally have a resolution to the class action lawsuit that former minor-league players brought against Major League Baseball. Aaron Senne et al v. Kansas City Royals Baseball Corp, more commonly referred to as Senne v. MLB, was filed eight years ago, picked up class action status in 2019, had that status upheld in early 2020 in the Ninth Circuit, and then, later that year, had the Supreme Court come to the same decision. Then, in March of 2022, Judge Joseph Spero, who was set to preside over the case when it went to trial in June, made some preemptive decisions about it: he declared that the suing minor-league players were, in fact, year-round employees, and were owed damages for all the time they had spent not being treated that way.

And now, the trial won’t be happening, as the two sides have reached a settlement. The terms of the settlement are actually unknown at this stage — and that’s by design — so we can’t start discussing whether the amount the players will receive is large enough or too small, if it is notable enough to inspire additional lawsuits or demands from active minor-league players, and so on. There’s still plenty to discuss, however, even without those specifics.

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MLB’s changing baseballs are a labor issue

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I know I just wrote a whole Baseball Prospectus piece with a tone that said, “I can’t believe I am writing about the baseballs again, please let me stop writing about the baseballs,” but it turns out I have even more to say on the matter, so now we’re all going to be subjected to yet another round of it. MLB constantly changing the baseballs, and doing so without the approval or even the awareness of the players, is a labor issue. It’s a lot of other issues, too, but for our purposes here, let’s focus on the labor part of things.

This isn’t a new thought, from myself or others. I wrote as much back at Deadspin in 2019:

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