Bernie Sanders sends letter to Rob Manfred in response to minor league contraction scheme

Getty Images
25 Comments

U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred today. The purpose: opposing baseball’s plan to contract 42 minor league baseball teams.

Sanders:

“Shutting down 25 percent of Minor League Baseball teams, as you have proposed, would be an absolute disaster for baseball fans, workers and communities throughout the country. Not only would your extreme proposal destroy thousands of jobs and devastate local economies, it would be terrible for baseball.”

Sanders notes in the letter that 20 of the wealthiest MLB owners have a combined net worth of more than $50 billion, that the average MLB franchise is now worth nearly $1.8 billion and made $40 million in profits last year. He also notes that MLB owners pay minor league players as little as $1,160 a month which — thanks to Congress doing MLB a big favor and passing a law classifying baseball players as seasonal employees — works out to below the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage. All this despite minor league baseball attendance growing by over 1 million fans last season alone.

It’s not all complaints, however. Sanders specifically threatens Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, which thanks to punting by the courts, is in the hands of Congress to revoke at will. Sanders:

“If this is the type of attitude that Major League Baseball and its owners have, then I think it’s time for Congress and the executive branch to seriously rethink and reconsider all of the benefits it has bestowed to the league including, but not limited to, its anti-trust exemption.”

Congress has never seriously considered doing so, but it has used the implied threat of doing so to call Major League Baseball on the carpet over past controversies such as baseball’s work stoppage in the mid-90s, MLB’s threat of contraction in 2001-02 and the PED scandals of the mid-2000s.

Sanders is not the only politician to rattle his sword about the minor league contraction plan in the past couple of weeks, but he is the most prominent to do so. And the first one who could theoretically find himself in the White House a little over a year from now who has taken public issue with Rob Manfred on the subject.

You can read his whole letter here:

 

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

tampa bay rays
Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.