One of the biggest problems that is staring Major League Baseball in the face (besides sign stealing) is the underpayment of minor league players. We have heard the stories for years about prospects having to pick up multiple off-season jobs to make ends meet and to pursue their dreams of being under the lights.
In a recent column from The Athletic, Pedro Moura provides an inside look into what some Dodgers prospects are thinking regarding this issue and how they cope.
One Dodgers prospect trains at Dodger Stadium on offseason mornings and works at L.A. Live at night. Another does demolitions. Others work retail and rideshare jobs. I wrote about minor-league life and making ends meet. https://t.co/UebwpEdlHI
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) January 21, 2020
Life of Brett de Geus
Brett de Geus was the Dodgers’ 33rd-round pick in 2017 and is currently working at L.A. Live as a barback this off-season. He worksout during the day at Dodger Stadium and then is forced to take a job to make ends meet. de Geus spoke about the life he lives with a sense of pride:
“Sometimes, it sucks. Other times, I’m pretty proud that this is what it takes for me to get it done and I’m actually doing it.”
This is not just limited to de Geus or Dodgers prospects. This is a league-wide problem. To paint more of a picture, the off-season life of outfielder Kyle Garlick was highlighted just after he made his debut last season.
Back to de Gues, he continued his story.
“What snapped me back into it was thinking about what else I would do. I would be of absolutely no benefit to society at all if I did anything other than play baseball. That’s what brought things back for me, realizing, no, there is nothing else for me. I was born to do this. I have to commit. This is what I do. This is what I am.”
He added more about the day to day of it all, with a little humor.
“It’s like, ‘OK, if you can work 70 hours a week just to make ends meet, I can stretch and do my prep work every day for half an hour. It’s not that big of a deal, and it’s only benefitting me. For so many other people, they have to do it just to live. It’s way more life-and-death than, ‘How tight does my ass feel today because I didn’t roll out yesterday?’”
Life of Mark Washington
Mark Washington was the Dodgers’ 25th-round pick in 2017 and has worked at Tommy Bahama recently. He now works at Lululemon. Here is what he had to say about it:
“Nothing against Tommy Bahama. I loved the job. It just wasn’t my scene. Everyone coming in was 50 years or older and I couldn’t relate.”
It has to be a strange feeling to be under the bright lights in the summer and on the sidelines in the winter. There is nothing wrong with working retail to make ends meet, but when you are a minor league player working on your craft, circumstances are a bit different.
Jeremiah Vison and Austin Drury
To chase the dream, Jeremiah Vison is currently doing demolitions in Orange County. Austin Drury drives Uber.
Brett de Geus finally put things into perspective for us:
“We were pretty much paying to play baseball.”
One day this issue with MLB, owners, and MiLB will come to a head. Last season, one organization — the Blue Jays — increased wages for its minor league players by a reported 40-56% all on its own. And the general feeling amongst the players was gratitude. They were thankful for the opportunity to focus fully on becoming better ballplayers 24/7 instead of worrying about how they would make ends meet on any given day.
Most importantly was the sense of pride the players felt for their organization for being trailblazers in fair pay.