Steve Cohen Tweet Cited by Minor Leaguers in Class Action Lawsuit Against MLB

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVNovember 1, 2021

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen attends a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Citi Field, the home of the Mets, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

A tweet from New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is being used against Major League Baseball in a class action lawsuit filed by minor league players seven years ago.

Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reported the suit is scheduled to go to trial in June, although both sides asked a federal judge to preempt the trial and unilaterally rule in their favor.

In arguing for back pay as part of the suit, the minor leaguers pointed to an August tweet from Cohen that suggested players are worth more than their draft slot value:

Steven Cohen @StevenACohen2

Education time - Baseball draft picks are worth up to 5x their slot value to clubs .I never shy away from investments that can make me that type of return.

The players hired Dr. Erica Groshen to write a report on the league paying sub-minimum wage salaries to minor leaguers, and she highlighted the tweet from Cohen.

"One recent indication of the value of a minor league player comes from Steven Cohen, owner of the New York Mets," the former commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics wrote. "He asserts that baseball draft picks are worth up to five times their slot value to Clubs."

Cohen's tweet was in regard to Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker.

Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN noted the Mets ultimately did not sign Rocker after selecting him with the No. 10 overall pick because of concerns about his health after a physical examination. He was previously set to sign for $6 million.

While Rocker's agent, Scott Boras, said the pitcher was healthy, New York received the No. 11 pick of the 2022 draft for not signing him.

As for the larger issue, the living conditions for minor league players has been under the spotlight of late. With reports of players sleeping in cars and accruing hotel bills they could not afford during the season, Passan reported last month that MLB will require teams to provide housing for their minor leaguers starting in 2022.

Despite that decision, Kaplan noted the league has argued against paying minor leaguers even minimum wage by saying they are seasonal employees and receive life training from their time on teams.

"Players obtained jobs during and following their time in the minor leagues, such as coaching baseball, providing baseball instruction at camps or privately, providing fitness instruction, owning athletic camps, managing baseball teams, and directing athletic departments," MLB said in its summary judgment motion.