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Group praises big leaguers for refusing minor league cuts

February 16, 2022 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — An advocacy group for minor league players has praised locked-out big leaguers for refusing to consider a proposal from Major League Baseball that would give teams the flexibility to cut hundreds of minor league jobs.

MLB proposed that the Major League Baseball Players Association agree that management has the flexibility to decrease the number of domestic players with minor league contracts to 150 if it chooses starting in 2023, down from 180. MLB also asked for the flexibility to increase the figure.

While the proposal would allow a reduction of up to 900 minor league contracts, MLB says teams currently have differing amounts under contract and two teams are under 150, so the potential drop under the proposal would be less.

The union said during ongoing bargaining it is not interested in that proposal, part of a larger package of 28 items, and that it has rejected it at least three times.

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“We were glad to learn that the MLBPA has repeatedly rejected MLB’s short-sighted proposal to cut yet more minor league jobs,” Advocates for Minor Leaguers said in a statement Tuesday. “The proposal itself again highlights that minor leaguers need and deserve a say over their wages and working conditions.”

Players with major league contracts are unionized, covering those on 40-man big league rosters. Players with minor league contracts are not covered by collective bargaining.

The proposal was first reported by ESPN.

Players proposed in July to cut the amateur draft from 40 to 20 rounds, a plan MLB agreed to.

MLB cut guaranteed minor league affiliates from 160 to 120 ahead of the 2021 season as part of its takeover of minor league operations. MLB said it would guarantee the 120 figure through 2030.

After successfully lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from federal minimum wage laws, MLB raised wages between 38% and 72% when the minor leagues returned last year from a one-season absence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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