Ted Berg at USA Today has a good story today focusing on the life of a woefully underpaid minor leaguer: Kyle Johnson of the New York Mets.
Johnson is one of the dozens of players who have joined in the lawsuit against Major League Baseball alleging that the extraordinarily low wages paid to minor leaguers is violative of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That case has wound its way through court for a couple of years now and will continue to do so, but in the meantime the lives of minor leaguers who are not on the 40-man roster or who, like Johnson, did not receive large signing bonuses (he got $5,000) continue to be rough ones. Especially if you have a family to support.
As Berg notes, if each and every minor leaguer were given a $30,000 raise — which would take them from sub-minimum wage compensation to a level where one could at least reasonably live — it would cost each organization $7.5 million. While that’s a lot of money, it’s not hard to see examples of clubs practically throwing away that kind of money. More modest raises, which would at least get players off of shared rooms filled with air mattresses during the season and out of multiple part time jobs in the offseason, would obviously cost less.
Ultimately, though, this is less about any specific dollar amount than it is about the overall state of affairs in which ballclubs treat their minor leaguers as if they were seasonal help rather than employees and in which their wages have less actual purchasing power now than they had 40 years ago. That state of affairs is bad when it exists in the economy at large. It’s inexcusable in baseball, which is more flush with money than it ever has been.
Go read Ted’s story about Kyle Johnson. It’s today’s must-read.
John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.
The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.
Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.
The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.
Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.