Minor-league baseball players won't have to worry about finding a place to live during the season anymore. MLB announced Thursday owners will pay for housing for roughly 90% of all minor-league players starting in 2022.
Minor-league players will be provided with housing if they are playing in Triple-A, Double-A, High-A, Low-A and at spring training complexes, including extended spring training and the Arizona Complex League. The policy will not apply to players in the minors with existing Major League Uniform Player Contracts or players earning six figures over the course of the season.
As part of the new housing program, teams will be required to provide housing at commutable distances from each ballpark. The accommodations must include one bed per player, and no more than two players will share the same room. Player facilities will be furnished, and teams will pay for basic utilities. Minor-league players have the option to opt out of club-provided housing.
MLB called the program a "major step" in the modernization of minor league player development. MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Morgan Sword said the move is a continuation of the owners' commitment to "addressing longstanding issues that have impacted minor league players for decades."
Sword pointed to increased minor-league salaries and improved facilities as other steps owners have taken to improve the minor-league experience.
MLB lobbied to keep minor-league wages down in 2018
That turnaround marks a significant change considering the league lobbied Congress to make minor-league players exempt from federal labor laws in 2018. That ruling allowed MLB to treat minor-league players as seasonal employees, enabling the league to pay players far below minimum wage. Though pay was raised in 2020, many minor-league players still don't make the minimum wage, and won't be paid during the offseason.
The introduction of the housing policy is a step in the right direction, though it won't fix every issue minor-league players face. The next collective-bargaining agreement won't fix those outstanding issues either, as minor-league players are not part of the MLBPA.
Unless that changes, minor-league players are at the whim of the league and its owners. It's not an ideal situation, even if the new policies benefit the players.