The Red Sox originally offered Victor Martinez two years and $21 million

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Remember back in September when we heard that the Red Sox offered Victor Martinez a two-year contract extension?

Even then we knew it wouldn’t get the job done, but now Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has the specifics. He reports that the BoSox offered him $21 million over the two years. It’s unclear if they expanded their offer since then.

Martinez is one of the most coveted free agents available this winter, so they’ll almost certainly need to do so if they hope to have any chance of keeping him. Cafardo writes that the Tigers and Rangers “have been the most interested,” but that the Mariners and Orioles are also in the mix.

All hypothetical, of course, but if given the choice to keep either Adrian Beltre or Martinez, I’d go with Beltre. Martinez turns 32 years old in December and has never been particularly good behind the plate. His offensive production looks great for a catcher, but less so as a DH or first baseman, where he’ll likely spend more time as he reaches his mid-30s. I would be very nervous if Jarrod Saltalamacchia opened the season as the team’s primary catcher, but the Red Sox could add an inexpensive veteran in the free agent market and still have the option to upgrade during the season.

Minor League Baseball teams sold over $70 million in merchandise in 2017

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Every so often here, we discuss the criminally low pay of Minor League Baseball players. Most of them make less than $7,500 a year, which includes the regular season as well as spring training, playoffs, and offseason training. The abysmal pay forces minor leaguers to eat unhealthy food, live in cramped quarters, and forego consistent, quality sleep, among other things.

What makes this situation worse is that Minor League Baseball is a huge money-maker for their parent teams in Major League Baseball. Josh Norris of Baseball America reported yesterday that Minor League Baseball teams sold $70.8 million in merchandise in 2017. That represented a 3.6 percent increase over the previous record set in 2016. This is just merchandise. Now think about concession and ticket sales.

Minor League Baseball COO Brian Earle said, “Minor League Baseball team names and logos continue to be among the most popular in all of professional sports, and our teams have made promoting their brand a priority for their respective organizations. The teams have done a tremendous job of using their team marks and logos to build an identity that is appealing to fans not just locally, but in some cases, globally as well.”

You may recall that Major League Baseball had been lobbying Congress to pass legislation exempting minor league players from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Doing so classified baseball players as seasonal workers, which means they are not entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay. That legislation passed earlier this year. Minor League Baseball generates profits hand over fist and it is now legally protected from having to share that with the labor that produced it.

Many points of divergence led us to this point, but the question is how do we change it? Minor leaguers are routinely taken advantage of because they don’t have a union. Compare the minors in baseball to the minors in hockey, where minor leaguers have a union. As SB Nation’s Marc Normandin pointed out last month, the minimum salary for American Hockey League players is $45,000 and the average salary is $118,000. They receive a playoff share of around $20,000, and receive health insurance that covers themselves as well as their families. Furthermore, the minor league hockey players’ per diem is $74, about three times as much as minor league baseball players’ per diem of $25.

Major League Baseball and its 30 teams have shown no inclination towards treating minor league players simply out of moral obligation or good will, so the minor leaguers need union coverage to force their conditions to improve. This could be as simple as the MLBPA expanding its coverage to the minor leagues because, after all, some minor leaguers do become major leaguers, right? Or the minor leaguers could themselves create a union. It’s easy to say, but tougher to do, which is why they still don’t have a union.

At any rate, every fan of baseball should be enraged when they read that Minor League Baseball keeps setting records year after year when it comes to selling hats and t-shirts, then refuses to share any of that wealth with the labor responsible for it. It’s morally reprehensible.