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MLB denies increase for minor leaguers

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  December 11, 2008 08:10 PM

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LAS VEGAS - Executives throughout baseball left the Bellagio resort casino upon the conclusion of the winter meetings today, but not before some privately aired their displeasure with one decision made by Major League Baseball.

According to representatives from two teams, MLB recently denied a proposal to increase meal money for minor league players from $20 to $25 per day on the road, a fact that clearly annoyed team officials. One team representative estimated that the increase might have cost each club somewhere in the range of $25,000, a microscopic sum in the multibillion dollar industry that MLB has become. Multiplied by 30, that places the total cost of the increase somewhere in the range of $750,000.

According to one of the two team officials, MLB cited national economic concerns for depriving the minor leaguers of the increase, something that annoyed all team officials. Minor league players are not protected by the players' union, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA).

A spokesman for Major League Baseball confirmed the decision made by MLB officials, saying that the matter likely would be revisited when the economy improves. Also according to the spokesman, MLB officials felt that an increase was inappropriate given the current economic climate.

Also according to one of the two executives, the $5 increase per player, per day was unanimously approved in an August meeting among minor league directors representing each of the 30 clubs. The proposal subsequently was approved by all 30 general managers at the GM meetings in California last month, at which point MLB was to present the matter to team owners at last month's owners meetings in New York.

According to one of the two team reps, MLB failed to present the proposal to owners at all, tabling the matter until at least next season. The same team rep said that the 30 clubs were unanimous in their frustration over the matter because they felt as if the game's administrators were needlessly squeezing minor leaguers.

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