Major League Baseball will start requiring all teams to provide housing for its minor league players next season, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported on Sunday.
The move came after months of widespread criticism and pressure from players, advocacy groups and more about the working conditions, low salaries and housing issues across the minor leagues.
MLB has not formally announced a plan, though owners from all 30 teams have agreed to a plan to provide housing for minor league players, according to Passan. Whether that means the league actually provides housing, or simply gives players a housing stipend, remains to be seen.
"This is a historic victory for minor league baseball players," Harry Marino, the executive director of Advocates of Minor Leaguers, told ESPN. "When we started talking to players this season about the difficulties they face, finding and paying for in-season housing was at the top of almost every player's list. As a result, addressing that issue became our top priority."
The total cost for a team to house all minor league players for a season, according to Passan, is estimated to be less than $1 million — even if that’s a team based in a huge market like New York City, a mid-market like Des Moines or teams in the smallest markets like Augusta, Georgia.
In all cases, regardless of location, players have been complaining about housing issues. Some have been forced to squeeze into small apartments with teammates, sleep in their cars or forced to stay in a hotel.
Housing is just one of the problems MLB has with its minor league players. In June, photos surfaced of Oakland A’s minor league players receiving “totally unacceptable” meals, including a sandwich with a single slice of processed cheese and a tortilla with barely anything in it.
Their salaries are still extremely low, too, even after pay increased significantly this season. According to ESPN, players now make at least $500 a week in Class A, $600 a week in Double-A, and $700 a week in Triple-A. The low pay is a huge reason why finding housing has been an issue, even after the increase.
"Most Minor Leaguers make less than $15,000 per year and won't receive their next paycheck until April," Marino said, via ESPN. "For the next six months, they will spend hours each day training — as required by contract — while trying to balance second and third jobs to make ends meet. Like housing six players in a two-bedroom apartment, this is a broken model from a bygone era. Minor leaguers will not rest until they receive the livable annual salary they deserve."