A 100-year-old antitrust exemption that has helped shape Major League Baseball is coming under scrutiny.
The Department of Justice has asked the U.S. District Court in New York to limit MLB’s antitrust exemption, which has been in place since 1922.
The “statement of interest” filing — in which the department weighs in on a case as neither plaintiff nor defendant — concerned a suit brought by three minor league teams. The teams were among 43 that lost their MLB affiliation in 2020.
MLB asked that the suit be thrown out, citing the antitrust exemption. The Department of Justice asked the court to “define the exemption narrowly.”
- Should the exemption be cut back, MLB teams could move to different cities without input from the league.
- Minor league players could explore other playing opportunities, which advocates argue would pressure teams to improve wages and living conditions.
Federal legislation has been introduced this year to remove MLB’s exemption, which is unique among U.S. sports leagues.
The New York Mets are in talks with state representatives and advocacy groups on improving wages and conditions for their minor league affiliates, all of which play in New York State.
Sen. Jessica Ramos, whose district includes Citi Field, wrote a letter to Mets owner Steve Cohen calling on the team to pay weekly salaries year-round, cover or provide in-season housing and meals, cover the cost of offseason training, and adjust salaries based on the cost of living in certain areas.