Minor League Baseball players have reportedly called on Congress to give them the same protections afforded to major leaguers in a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee leadership Thursday.
Per ESPN's Jeff Passan, Harry Marino, executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, alleged in the letter that Major League Baseball has "abused its [antitrust] exemption to the detriment of the American people" and urged Congress to expand the Curt Flood Act that revoked MLB's antitrust exemption for labor matters with major league players.
Marino wrote that expanding the Curt Flood Act would have a significant impact that would allow minor leaguers to "negotiate the length and terms of their initial Minor League contracts with their Major League teams, knowing that at the end of those initial contracts they would be free to sign with the Major League team willing to provide them the best overall compensation package."
Player salaries in Minor League Baseball have drawn heavy scrutiny in recent years.
Passan noted Triple-A players make a minimum of $700 a week, while Double-A players receive a minimum of $600 per week, Single-A players $500 and complex-league players $400.
The Athletic's Evan Drellich wrote last month that Marino's organization found "about two-thirds of major league teams were not paying a salary to players in extended spring training beyond meal money" during the 2021 season.
On June 28, the bipartisan U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Advocates for Minor Leaguers requesting additional information about MLB's antitrust exemption.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said in the letter the committee is seeking to examine how the exemption "is affecting the operation of Minor League baseball teams and the ability of Minor League ballplayers to make a decent living."
MLB has had an antitrust exemption since 1922 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the business of baseball doesn't constitute interstate commerce. The ruling made MLB exempt from the Sherman Act, which prevents businesses from conspiring to hinder competition.
In 2021, MLB cut 42 minor league teams in a regional realignment. Passan reported in February that MLB sought the ability to eliminate "hundreds of minor league playing jobs" in one proposal during collective bargaining negotiations with the players union.
Marino wrote in his letter that it's "only a matter of time until the MLB owners inform us that they intend to take a wrecking ball to our national game once more" with another round of contraction in the minors seemingly "inevitable."
Minor league players are not covered by the MLB Players Association, nor do they have their own union. Players promoted to an MLB team's 26-man roster are immediately in the MLBPA, but they don't stay in the union if they get demoted back to the minors.