Minor leaguers are practically starving

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Think minor leaguers don’t have every incentive to do whatever they can to make the big leagues? Check out Garrett Broshuis’ latest story in Baseball America about living on the verge of poverty in the minor leagues. I’d normally blockquote something here, but this is better if read in full and in context. The details are pretty hard to believe given baseball’s $6 billion+ revenue.

The big driver on these salaries, of course, is supply and demand: there is no shortage of guys who would kill for the chance to play pro ball, and when that happens, it’s easy to see how a team can pay a guy $3000 for a seven month commitment.

But it doesn’t justify it. Supply and demand is what led to kids working in coal mines, and there’s a reason why someone has stepped in to stop that. I’m not suggesting that the government get involved in minor league baseball of course, but Major League Baseball and the player’s association — two entities which derive no small amount of benefit from the existence of the minor leagues and which essentially dictate policies to the minor leagues without any actual minor leaguer input — can and should do better than simply saying “that’s the market” while their brothers in the bushes are killing themselves for nearly nothing.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.