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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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MLBPA’s Clark Sees His Salary Soar As Union’s Size, Business Grow

  • The baseball players’ union remains in the midst of significant organizational change.
  • Licensing income shows a sharp escalation last year compared to 2022.
Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Players Association appears to have survived its recent leadership crisis, at least for now, but a newly released annual report shows an organization still in the midst of significant transformation. 

More than a week after the union became enveloped in an accelerating executive struggle—in which a group of players pushed to oust deputy director Bruce Meyer and replace him with Harry Marino, a former MLBPA lawyer who was instrumental in the recent unionization of minor league players—no senior-level changes have been made. Momentum behind a potential shift has also faded since the union’s executive subcommittee, a group of eight among the MLBPA’s 72-player board—issued a statement in late March that appears to reject Marino. 

The union’s annual financial report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, meanwhile, reflects a series of sizable changes that players will likely continue to grapple with in the coming years. Among the notable elements in the document:

  • Executive director Tony Clark (above) received $4.29 million in total compensation for 2023, nearly twice the comparable $2.28 million for the year before. Clark’s base salary last year increased to $3.25 million following a new contract signed in late ’22, and he then received a $1 million bonus following the completion of the latest labor deal with MLB. 
  • The union last year showed a 38% surge in licensing income compared to 2022 to $152.1 million, accelerating a multiyear growth trend in what remains by far the union’s leading source of revenue. Trading card manufacturer Topps led the way with $49.6 million in payments, up from nearly $46 million a year ago, followed by Fanatics ($44 million), OneTeam Partners ($28.6 million), and Panini ($10.2 million). 
  • Overall revenue for the year stood at $173.3 million, up 6%.
  • Total MLBPA assets similarly rose by 39% to $206.6 million, boosted in part by an escalation in the value of investments held by the union.

Part of the Marino push to assume power within the union was his belief, and that of his supporters, that there is excess to be cut in MLBPA operations. Overall spending on MLBPA salaries stood at $16.6 million in 2023, up sharply from ’21’s $11.9 million. But the organization is also much larger following the recent inclusion of minor league players in the union.

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