MLB reaches tentative CBA with minor leaguers


Minor league baseball players and Major League Baseball struck a tentative deal Wednesday on the first collective bargaining agreement between the sides that will more than double player pay and represents the largest-ever gains in the rights of minor leaguers, sources familiar with the agreement told ESPN.

The deal, which will last for five years, comes after a rapid and successful effort last year by minor leaguers to unionize under the umbrella of the Major League Baseball Players Association and follows previous improvements in housing and pay. MLB formally recognized the union upon its formation, paving the way for a negotiation that finalized the deal on the eve of major league Opening Day.

After years of disillusionment among future major leaguers about paltry salaries forcing them to work offseason jobs — and coincidentally on the day a judge approved a $185 million settlement the league will pay players who accused it of violating minimum-wage laws — the parties agreed on a deal that went out to a vote among the union’s rank and file and that will need to be approved by owners, as well, before it is formalized. The agreement could be announced officially as early as Friday, the first day of games in the minor leagues.

The pay increases at each level are significant, according to sources, and will pay players for most of the offseason as well as spring training, including back pay for this season. At each level, the pay structure will see annual minimum salaries go from:

  • Triple-A: $17,500 to $35,800
  • Double-A: $13,800 to $30,250
  • High-A: $11,000 to $27,300
  • Single-A: $11,000 to $26,200
  • Complex league: $4,800 to $19,800

Among those not included in the deal are players at teams’ complexes in the Dominican Republic. The minor league unit of the MLBPA includes only players on teams’ domestic rosters — and players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and other foreign countries will still reap the benefits when stateside.

The deal includes the reduction of the maximum Domestic Reserve List, which governs the number of players a team can roster outside of its Dominican Republic complexes, from 180 to 165 starting in 2024. The union had previously fought MLB’s efforts during the lockout last year to reduce the reserve list, which teams had identified as a priority.

Players, meanwhile, emphasized better housing and transportation as a matter of import. Starting in 2024, those at Triple-A and Double-A will receive their own bedroom, and players with spouses and children will receive special accommodations. In rookie ball, Single-A and High-A, teams will provide transportation to stadiums, where they’ll eat meals provided under rules negotiated by a joint clubhouse nutrition committee.

Given that MLB only recognized the MLBPA’s representation of minor leaguers six months ago, this is incredibly quick. The salaries negotiated here still aren’t a lot, but they’re a lot more than they were before, and that’s a big step forward. The players and the league still have to ratify the deal, which everyone expects to happen. I’m genuinely impressed. Kudos all around. Fangraphs has more.

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