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Law

Senate Takes Aim at MLB’s Antitrust Exemption

  • Four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote a letter as part of its "analysis of the necessity of this century-old exemption.”
  • Advocate says minor leaguers "are far and away the group most negatively impacted" by MLB's broad antitrust exemption.
MLB Antitrust
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

The Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a bipartisan effort to examine the legality of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption — and whether its termination will improve minor league working conditions . 

The committee — chair Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) — penned a letter to Harry Marino, the executive director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers. 

Marino has pressed for improvements in pay and living conditions for players in the MLB farm system.

  • In the current setup, rights to players are held for a total of seven years in the minors and seven more if the player reaches the majors — with no option to play elsewhere professionally unless the team releases the player. 
  • The salary range for minor league players this season ranges from $4,800 and $15,400.
  • The Department of Justice described MLB’s exemption as an “aberration” in a filing as part of a lawsuit over the contraction of 40 teams; MLB assumed control of operations of the minor leagues before the 2021 season.

Not-So-Minor Impact

Marino said that minor league players are “far and away the group most negatively impacted by baseball’s antitrust exemption.” He also noted that MLB owners “should not have a special license to underpay their workers.”

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