NEW YORK – Minor league players reached a historic initial collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball on Wednesday that will more than double player salaries, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details were not announced.
As part of the five-year deal, MLB agreed during the contract not to reduce minor league affiliates from the current 120.
The sides reached the deal two days before the start of the minor league season and hours after a federal judge gave final approval to a $185 million settlement reached with MLB last May of a lawsuit filed in 2014 alleging violations of federal minimum wage laws.
Union staff recommended approval and about 5,500 minor leaguers were expected to vote on Thursday. MLB teams must also vote to approve and are expected to do so over the next week.
Minimum salaries will rise from $4,800 to $19,800 at rookie ball, $11,000 to $26,200 at Low Class A, $11,000 to $27,300 at High Class A, $13,800 to $27,300 at Double A and $17,500 to $45,800 at Triple-A. Players will be paid in the offseason for the first time.
Most players will be guaranteed housing, and players at Double-A and Triple-A will be given a single room. Players below Double-A will have the option of exchanging club housing for a stipend. The domestic violence and drug policies will be covered by the union agreement. Players who sign for the first time at 19 or older can become minor league free agents after six seasons instead of seven.
Major leaguers have been covered by a labor contract since 1968 and the average salary has soared from $17,000 in 1967 to an average of $4.22 million last season. Full-season minor leaguers earned as little as $10,400 last year.
The Major League Baseball Players Association took over as the bargaining representative of the roughly 5,500 players with minor league contracts last September after a lightning 17-day organization drive.
Minor leaguers players will receive four weeks of retroactive spring training pay for this year. They will get $625 weekly for spring training and offseason training camp and $250 weekly for offseason workouts at home.
Beginning in 2024, teams can have a maximum of 165 players under contract during the season and 175 during the offseason, down from the current 190 and 180.
The union will take over group licensing rights for players.
Negotiating for players was led by Tony Clark, Bruce Meyer, Harry Marino, Ian Penny and Matt Nussbaum. MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem headed management’s bargainers.