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Weekend Bird Droppings: MLB doesn’t want to pay minor leaguers during spring

The lockout continues, a conversation with Kjerstad, and thinking about trades.

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MLB Owners Meetings Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

This won’t come as a surprise to any of you, but it turns out the folks that run Major League Baseball are the worst. Like, actual ghouls in human suits.

The latest evidence supporting this fact is a story in The Athletic by Evan Drellich that explains MLB is trying to avoid paying minor league players during spring training. You see, according to MLB, the teams get no benefit from training those young players, so it’s not fair they have to pay them.

From the piece, MLB’s lawyers say that that “It is the players that obtain the greater benefit from the training opportunities that they are afforded than the clubs, who actually just incur the cost of having to provide that training...During the training season, the players are not employees, and would not be subject to either the Fair Labor Standards Act or any state minimum wage act.”

That is just a wild way to frame spring training. Not employees? Are the players not required to attend as part of their employment? Do some of those young players not eventually turn into underpaid members of major league teams? Rest assured that MLB and its clubs do turn a profit with the current circumstances of the relationship.

Now, you might argue that major league players aren’t paid during the spring, so why should the minor leaguers be any different. I would say that the major leaguers should be paid during that time as well. They are providing their labor and are essentially required to do so by their employer. The games they play in the spring get broadcast on radio and TV alongside paid advertisements. It’s rather silly to think everyone should be making money at that time except the players, even though they are the entire reason people are interested at all.

In case you aren’t familiar, this Baseball America article from 2020 explains the minor league stipend system a bit. It varies from team to team, but each minor leaguer gets a couple hundred bucks per week during the spring in addition to living arrangements and provided meals. Even multiplied out, this situation is not breaking the bank for teams. But MLB wants to change it anyway.


Alexander Wells got better along the way in ‘21, but has room to grow | The Baltimore Sun
We expected the strikeouts to be hard to come by for Alexander Wells in the big leagues. He came up as a pitchability lefty that got by on precision rather than stuff. But he also walked hitters nearly three times as often in MLB last year compared to Triple-A. That will need to be fixed.

Catching up with Heston Kjerstad | School of Roch
I honestly cannot wait to see in-game action of Heston Kjerstad. As someone that is often unfamiliar with amateur players prior to the moment they are drafted, his scouting report sounds like the ideal right fielder—big arm, big power. It will be fun to see it play out that way.

There are likely no untouchables in trade talks | Steve Melewski
This sounds right to me. As magical as the John Means no-hitter and Cedric Mullins 30-30 campaign was, it is clear that the Orioles are more than one or two players away from contending. That said, any trade involving one of them should land an absolute haul of players that is nearly ready for the show. The rebuild remains in progress, but the wins will need to come in the somewhat near future.

From the O’s to overseas: How a better CBA for young players could impact the allure of playing in Asia | Jon Meoli
I’m not sure how much a new CBA would help a player the caliber of Tyler Wilson or Mike Wright to stick around longer, but it wouldn’t hurt. These players understand that they can only play professional sports for so long, and eventually it comes down to making as much money as possible to support yourself and your family.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Henry Urrutia is 35 this weekend. The Cuban-born outfielder played in 34 games with the Orioles, split between the 2013 and ‘15 seasons.
  • Logan Ondrusek turns 37. The 6-foot-8 hurler made his way into seven games for the 2016 Birds.
  • Chris Snyder is 41. After spending most of his career with the Diamondbacks, the longtime catcher appeared in nine games for the 2013 O’s.
  • Adam Stern turns 42. The outfielder played in two games but did not make a plate appearance for the 2007 Orioles.
  • Howie Clark celebrates his 48th birthday. He had three stints with the Orioles, first as a player in 2002 and 2006, and then as a coach in the organization from 2015 through 2019.
  • Todd Williams turns 51. The righty was a member of the team’s bullpen during the dark ages from 2004 through 2007, but he stamped his spot in baseball history on June 22, 2006 by allowing a hit to Miguel Cabrera despite attempting to intentionally walk him.
  • Don Stanhouse is 71 years old today. The righty was a crucial piece of the Orioles bullpen in 1978 and ‘79, pitching in 108 games during that time. He returned to the club in 1982 but struggled, allowing 16 earned runs over 26.2 innings.
  • The late Pat Dobson (d. 2006) was born on this day in 1942. He was part of the team’s rotation in 1971 and ‘72, making the all-star squad in his second season with a 2.65 ERA over 268.1 innings.
  • Another posthumous birthday for Jim Brideweser (d. 1989), who was born in 1927. The middle infielder had two stops in Baltimore, first in 1954 and then again in 1957.
  • Jerry Walker turns 83. He had a solid four-season run in Baltimore from 1957 through 1960. He served as both a starter and reliever, and had a 3.33 ERA over 78 total appearances with the O’s.

This weekend in O’s history

This has been a slow weekend for the Orioles historically, according to Baseball Reference. So, here are some other things that have happened in the world on these dates.

1404 - The first post-mortem autopsy for teaching purposes was performed by Italian professor Galeazzo di Santa Sophie.

1633 - Galileo arrives in Rome for his trial ahead of the Inquisition.

1855 - Michigan State University is established.

1901 - The NAACP is founded.

1915 - The first stone of the Lincoln Memorial is put into place in Washington D.C.

1920 - The Negro National League is formed.