Federal judge OKs $185M deal in minor leaguers’ suit vs MLB

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A $185 million settlement in a lawsuit by minor leaguers against Major League Baseball for violating federal minimum wage laws was approved Wednesday by a federal judge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero issued his approval in a 36-page order in federal court in San Francisco, finding objections to the settlement were without merit. The approval will not be effective for 30 days, allowing time for appeals.

Notification of the settlement was sent ahead of approval to about 24,000 players potentially eligible to share the money, with estimated payments to players in the $5,000 to $5,500 range.

“After nine years of litigation, we are extremely pleased that the court has approved this historic settlement,” Korein Tillery, a law firm representing players, said in a statement. “The settlement is a landmark result that will provide much-needed back pay to thousands of minor league players, and will cause important changes to their contracts.”

The Major League Baseball Players Association took over representation of players with minor league contracts last September and has been negotiating for an initial collective bargaining agreement ahead of the start of the minor league season on Friday.

MLB did not comment on Spero’s approval.

The deal was announced May 10. Of the settlement, $55 million will go to attorneys’ fees, about $4.65 million to litigation costs, $995,000 in settlement administration expenses, $600,000 to class representatives in payments of $15,000 to 40 people and $37,500 to five named plaintiffs who are not class representatives in payments of $7,500 each. About $1.7 million will go to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

Spero denied an objection by Eddy Vizcaino, a Pittsburgh minor league outfielder from 2015-18 who wanted more than his estimate of about $135.54, and another by Yadel Marti, Helder Velazquez, Jose Diaz and Brahiam Maldonado.

The suit was filed in 2014 by first baseman/outfielder Aaron Senne, a 10th-round pick of the Marlins in 2009 who retired in 2013, and two other retired players who had been lower-round selections: Kansas City infielder Michael Liberto and San Francisco pitcher Oliver Odle. They claimed violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state minimum wage and overtime requirements for a work week they estimated at 50 to 60 hours.

The settlement covers all players with minor league contracts who played in the California League for at least seven straight days starting on Feb. 7, 2010, through the settlement’s preliminary approval last Aug. 26; players who participated in spring training, extended spring training or instructional leagues in Florida from Feb. 7, 2009, through last Aug. 26; and players who participated in spring training, extended spring training or instructional leagues in Arizona from Feb. 7, 2011, through last Aug. 26.

For players in those groups to be eligible, their participation must have occurred before signing a major league contract.

Nationals blow 6-run lead, rebound to beat Phillies 8-7

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WASHINGTON (AP) Lane Thomas singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals sent the Philadelphia Phillies to their fifth straight loss, winning 8-7 after blowing a six-run lead.

The defending NL champion Phillies have just five victories in their last 18 games and are tied with the Nationals at the bottom of the NL East at 25-32.

“We’ve got to overcome it,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We’ve got to play better, get consistent in all phases and keep moving forward.”

Alex Call drew a two-out walk against Connor Brogdon (2-1) in the eighth, stole second on a low pitch that catcher JT Realmuto couldn’t make a throw on and scored on Thomas’ single to right center.

“The way Lane’s swinging the bat, if you can get on second base, we can win the game,” Call said. “I look over and the ball’s in the dirt, he doesn’t catch it. Now I’m saying: ‘All right, Lane. Come on!’”

Kyle Finnegan (3-2) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the victory, stranding the tying run on second in the ninth.

Nick Castellanos homered twice, singled, doubled and drove in five runs for Philadelphia, which had scored just three runs in its past three games.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives as a group,” Castellanos said. “Showing some fight. It would have been really, really easy to lay down and allow the way the game started to be the way that it finished.”

Down 7-1 after four innings, Philadelphia tied it at 7 in the eighth. Brandon Marsh worked a nine-pitch walk against Mason Thompson leading off, and Drew Ellis singled with one out. Finnegan came on to face Kyle Schwarber, who hit a ground ball up the middle. Shortstop CJ Abrams fielded it behind it behind second base, touched second for one out, but threw wildly to first and Marsh came home with the tying run.

Castellanos’s second homer, a two-run shot to center in the sixth, pulled the Phillies to 7-3 and Marsh added an RBI single in the inning.

In the seventh, Schwarber doubled with one out and Bryson Scott reached on an infield single. Hunter Harvey came on and walked Bryce Harper to load the bases. Castellanos singled to center scoring two runs to make it 7-6.

Luis Garcia homered and Jeimer Candelario doubled twice and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who have won seven of 12.

Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler, coming off eight shutout innings against Atlanta, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

“This one’s on me really,” Wheeler said. “Guys battled back. Just couldn’t finish it out. We know who we have in this room and what we’ve got to do.”

Josiah Gray gave up four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings for Washington.

Candelario doubled just beyond the reach of left fielder Schwarber to drive in the first of Washington’s two runs in the first.

In the second, Abrams hit a one-out drive to deep center that Marsh misplayed into a double. With two outs and two on, Candelario doubled off the wall in right center to make it 5-0.

Garcia ended Wheeler’s night with a solo homer in the fourth.

“When you come out the way we did, you’ve got to tack on,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It didn’t happen tonight, but we got one more than the other guys.”


Candelario is 9 for 26 (.346) with four doubles, a home run, nine RBIs, five walks, and seven runs scored in his last seven games.


Phillies: Thomson said RHP Taijuan Walker played catch Friday and there are “no worries about his next start.” In a four-inning outing against the Mets on Thursday, Walker’s sinker velocity averaged 90.6 mph, down from 92.7 mph for the season. His fastball, splitter and curveball velocity also dropped.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles (back spasms) took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the injured list. … LHP Sean Doolittle (elbow) gave up a run on two hits and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning working his second straight night for Class A Fredericksburg.


Phillies: LHP Matt Strahm (4-3, 3.20) will start a bullpen game on Saturday.

Nationals: LHP MacKenzie Gore (3-3, 3.57) went seven innings and struck out a career-high 11 batters in his previous outing – a no decision against the Royals.

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