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Forbes: The average MLB team is worth $1.54 billion


Forbes has released its annual team valuation list. Surprise: the Yankees are the most valuable team at $3.7 billion, followed by the Dodgers ($2.75 billion) and Red Sox ($2.7 billion). One very interesting finding, per Mike Ozanian of Forbes, is that the average MLB team is worth $1.54 billion, an increase of 19 percent from one year ago. As Ozanian explains, it has a lot to do with local TV deals.

Nick Stellini of FanGraphs made this observation, however:

You may recall the various news items we wrote about here last year pertaining to the fight for minor leaguers to make a living wage. Last summer, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL) introduced H.R. 5580, also known as “Save America’s Pastime Act,” which sought to amend language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In short, the bill wanted to reclassify minor league players as a “short-term seasonal apprenticeship” — to use commissioner Rob Manfred’s exact words — so that they weren’t protected under the law.

This has been an ongoing battle, though it reached prominence in 2014 when minor leaguers Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle filed a lawsuit against MLB alleging that minor leaguers are underpaid and exploited. The trio has hit some bumps in the road in their legal quest, but had their case recertified as class action last month.

Just how little do many minor leaguers make? Tony Blengino, a former front office executive with the Brewers and Mariners, wrote for ESPN last year that “a first-year pro can expect to make barely more than $1,000 a month in wages.” Attorney Michael McCann wrote for Sports Illustrated in 2014 that “most [minor leaguers] earn between $3,000 and $7,500 for a five-month season.” He added, “Many minor league players earn less than the federal poverty level, which is $11,490 for a single person and $23,550 for a family of four.”

Last summer, Crashburn Alley’s Adam Dembowitz did some back-of-the-envelope math, approximating what it might cost the league to properly pay its players:

With Major League Baseball having seen significant growth, that percentage is even smaller using today’s numbers. You can even reduce the hypothetical $50,000 salary for minor leaguers if you feel like it’s too much (it’s not), significantly cutting down on the figure. The above figure comes out to an average salary cost of $1.25 million per minor league team. With about eight minor league teams per organization, that comes out to $10 million. Per Forbes, MLB teams posted an average operating income of $34 million.

Even beyond the math, it makes sense for major league teams to foster a healthy lifestyle for its players. Last year, the Phillies became the first team to make a significant investment (about $1 million), making sure their minor leaguers eat healthy. Catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was in the Phillies’ system last year, said, “Food is an integral part of everything you do. They’re going to pay millions of dollars for players and then have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?”

Assistant GM Ned Rice said, “We want them to not have to worry about anything other than baseball. When they’re playing for the Phillies, they’ll have that stuff taken care of for them.”

Teams should follow the Phillies’ lead not just when it comes to diet and nutrition, but in other aspects of their players’ lives. Paying them a living wage will reduce their stress, allowing them to concentrate fully on baseball rather than making sure the electric stays on in the winter. It will allow them to spend the offseason focusing on maintaining a good workout regimen, rather than taking an offseason job in manual labor that can potentially result in a career-ending injury. It will allow players to afford a reliable car, rather than driving a 20-year-old beat-up car that can break down on the highway at any second. It will allow players to afford their own housing, rather than cramming in with six other players in a three-bedroom apartment. They’ll sleep better. Even sleep is something some teams are just now realizing is important.

Congratulations, Major League Baseball, on continuing to make money hand over fist. Now pay your minor leaguers.

Cardinals place Dexter Fowler and Kevin Siegrist on the disabled list

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The Cardinals announced a handful of roster moves ahead of Sunday night’s game against the Pirates. Outfielder Dexter Fowler and pitcher Kevin Siegrist were placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right heel spur and a cervical spine strain, respectively. Outfielder Chad Huffman was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. The club recalled outfielder Randal Grichuk and pitcher Mike Mayers and purchased the contract of first baseman Luke Voit from Memphis.

Fowler, 31, apparently suffered his heel injury during Saturday’s game against the Pirates. He had previously missed a few games due to a quadriceps injury. He’s currently hitting .245/.336/.481 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI in 277 plate appearances.

Grichuk, 25, struggled to a .222/.276/.377 triple-slash line over his first 46 games in the big leagues, so the Cardinals sent him down to Triple-A. In 14 games with Memphis, Grichuk hit three doubles and six home runs.

Voit, 25, has crushed Triple-A pitching so far this season, batting .322/.406/.561 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI in 293 PA. He may see the occasional start at first base, but he’ll be used mostly as a bench bat.

Roberto Osuna reveals he has been dealing with an anxiety issue

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Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna recently revealed that he has been dealing with an anxiety issue, Rob Longley of the Toronto Star reports. Osuna specified that the issue is completely off the field, not on the field.

Osuna had been feeling “a little bit anxious, a little bit weird” and said, “I feel like I’m lost a little bit right now.” Despite the anxiety, Osuna volunteered to pitch during Friday’s loss to the Royals, but the Blue Jays smartly chose not to put him into the game.

Osuna said, “I wish I knew how to get out of here and how to get out of this. We’re working on it. We’re trying to find ways to see what can make me feel better. But to be honest I just don’t know.”

It must have been tough for Osuna to make his issue public, as there is still a stigma around dealing with mental issues. Given the prominent position he holds in the Jays’ bullpen, fans become even less empathetic about taking time off to deal with it as well. Hopefully, Osuna is able to use the time off to get the help he needs. And hopefully his going public helps motivate other people dealing with mental issues to seek help for themselves.

The 22-year-old recently became the youngest player in major league history to reach 75 career saves. This season, Osuna is carrying a 2.48 ERA with 19 saves and a 37/3 K/BB ratio in 39 innings.


Update: Osuna pitched the ninth inning of an 8-2 ballgame on Sunday and got all three Royals out on strikeouts.