Player Salaries

Tonight was an earlier game, as Sunday’s usually are.  However, it was at 5:05pm, not quite as early as Sunday games in Cedar Rapids.  I am guessing this is to stay out of the afternoon heat, but players sometimes view Sundays as a shortened workday, and look forward to them because of typically lighter workouts and early departures.  After falling behind early, we cut the deficit to one run in the sixth inning, but would not get any closer as we lost 7-3.  The team has been up and down this past week, and it is very frustrating only being able to watch.  My knee is feeling better though and I hope to begin moving on it and getting into drills these next few days. 

Before today’s game, I was signing some autographs and met someone who had made the trip from Cedar Rapids for the week to visit his grandfather and catch some Quakes games.  I spoke with him for a little while and he was telling me how he enjoys the blog.  Over the past few weeks, the discussions I have had with people and the emails I have received have made me realize the reach of this blog, and that it is more widely read than I had imagined.  I am happy to know that many people are finding the blog to be a useful tool for gaining insight into professional baseball and how a baseball player actually lives.

A question I am frequently asked is with regard to how much money baseball players at the minor league level make.  It is a common misconception that all professional baseball players are making very good, or even decent money.  However, the truth is that minor league baseball is no way to make a living.  It seems that we are making just enough money to break even during the season, having only a little extra money left over. 

I am going to go into specifics in a moment, but I want clarify that not all players, including myself, are in it for the money.  Yes, there are players that are fortunate enough to make a good amount of money with bonuses, but after the signing bonus, almost all players at a given minor league level make the same amount of money.  If I were looking to make money, I would already be in the working world using my Finance degree and working reasonable hours Monday through Friday.  Playing baseball right now is about chasing a dream; a dream that all of us have been chasing since we started playing baseball.  I have the rest of my life to work, so I might as well play as long as I can.

The base salary for all Class A (both A and A-Advanced) players is $1,300 per month.  Class AA and Class AAA players have higher monthly salaries, with players on the MLB 40-man roster paid even more.  We are paid bi-monthly, and for simplicity, the figures I discuss will be for a two week period.  The two-week pay of $650 is pre-tax, and after Social Security and Medicare is taken out, I am left with a $600 check.  Fortunately (or unfortunately as it may be for my overall finances), I have not made enough annually that requires deductions to be taken out.  Clubhouse dues are $45 every two weeks (these cover all of the food we have in our clubhouse, the cleaning of our uniforms and baseball apparel, and for additional compensation for our clubby, so of course, this does not include tip).  A reasonable tip for this period is $15.

We will assume that we are on an overnight road trip for half of this two week period (tend to be more expensive than commuters), where we get a $20 per diem.  While we get this $20, I tend to eat at restaurants that are not of the fast food variety (which I find to be gross, but sometimes are forced to frequent due to the odd hours), and after tax and tip on a meal, staying under $20 for lunch and dinner is seemingly impossible.  So, it will be assumed that I am spending $28 per day for food on the road.  While at home, lunch and/or dinner is sometimes had away from the field or the host family, so it will be assumed that one meal of $12 is had every day during a home game.

So far, the breakdown is as follows:

Take home pay: $600

Less dues: $60

Credit road per diem: $140

Less road food: $196

Less home food: $84

This leaves a current total of $400.  Over the course of a season (10 pay cycles), I receive $6,000 of take home pay, and only $4,000 after the necessary expenses are covered.  I need to use this money for miscellaneous expenses, including a cell phone bill, any gear (batting gloves, mitts, spikes, apparel) that I had to purchase during the season (which this year will total about $700), and anything else I need to pay for, like the $50 bag overage that will not be reimbursed for during my flight to San Jose after being promoted.

This amount of money is nothing to live by.  Fortunately, I have family support to help me financially when needed, as they feel that chasing this dream will provide me with value that cannot be measured monetarily.  So, the next time you look out on the field thinking that professional athletes are overpaid, consider the time and financial sacrifices that were endured along the way to make Major League salaries.  For most, it is not a free ride from when a player is signed until they reach the Majors.

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4 Responses to “Player Salaries”

  1. Nick Dildine Says:

    Chris,

    Thanks for the mention in the blog. I did read what you had wrote and now my whole family wants to read it. But hey man, if everything goes slright for you, I’ll see you at spring training in Tempe, as I make that trip for my spring break vacation.

    Thanks and good luck the rest of the way,

    Nick

  2. Rachel Says:

    Baum,

    As you well know, I love keeping tabs on your career through the blog and I can’t wait until August when I will hopefully be able to see you play for the first time in years!!!!

    A few thoughts on the money issue. You and I have talked about how much money you actually take home at the end of the day, and I get it; it’s obviously not much at all. That being said, though, do you think that several million dollars per year is appropriate? Just to use a grossly extreme example, ESPN.com lists Alex Rodriguez’s 2008 salary as $28 million… that’s for ONE year of playing baseball. I’m not going to sit here and say that I know and understand all of the intricacies of playing a professional sport or even of how much it costs to enjoy the finer things in life as many of these players do, but that seems to be an absurd amount of money. That’s not to say that playing a professional sport isn’t a “real job,” because I know that it is, but can you explain or justify a $28,000,000 per year salary to play a sport?

    As always when discussing the issue of how much money professional athletes make, Latrell Spreewell’s infamous quote comes to mind. In case you don’t know what I’m referring to, he was offered a 3-year $21 million contract extension and he refused; his response to the amount – which was significantly less than what his contract paid him at the time – was, “I have a family to feed.” Okay well, let’s do some simple math (and again, I know that there are taxes, fees, etc. but for example sake let’s forget them). Twenty-one million dollars in three years, so $7 million per year. He can’t feed his family, despite having five children, on SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS IN A YEAR? Is he not aware of how much money that is? Does he not realize that $7 million dollars is exponentially more money than most Americans will make in their lifetimes?

    Alright, I’m off my soapbox. I just wanted to know what your opinion was on all of this.

    Keep up the good work, rehab yourself!!

    R

  3. Rachel Says:

    Addendum: The following is a letter to the editor from a woman in Sacramento, regarding the recent news of Brad Miller getting a third drug violation and therefore having to sit out for five games (and, by definition, not get paid for said games).

    “Brad Miller is my favorite King. I even have two of his jerseys. But the question-and-answer article in The Bee (“Miller vows he’ll rebound,” Friday) has me upset.

    He can’t sleep? Stressed out? Wondering how to spend his $11.3 million salary? Knowing that a third violation with marijuana would leave him suspended without pay for five games? Well, walk in my shoes … unemployed for eight months, wondering where my next paycheck will come from, wondering how much more gas will go up, cutting out grocery coupons to make ends meet.

    Wouldn’t I love to have just a portion of the $693,000 he will lose during his suspension. It would sure give me a peaceful night of sleep, which I haven’t been able to enjoy lately, not to mention what it would do for my mental state.

    Brad, you knew this would happen with a third violation, but with the money you make – and the money that you are going to lose – I just don’t have any sympathy for you.

    – Vicki C., Sacramento”

  4. Coach Rudd Says:

    Chris:

    Keep working hard and drop me an email… so we can catch up, also give your family my best…

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