MLB Lockout Is Not ‘Millionaires Vs. Billionaires’ Battle

Nearly three months have passed since MLB team owners unanimously voted to impose a lockout after the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired. It marked the ninth work stoppage in the league’s history and ended 27 consecutive years of labor peace.

The ongoing lockout has been dubbed by many as a battle between “billionaires and millionaires.” While that’s an easy narrative to get behind, the numbers say otherwise.

According to multiple reports, the average MLB salary on Opening Day last year was $4.1 million, which represented a 4.8% decrease from the start of the previous full season in 2019. Furthermore, the median salary at the start of the 2021 season was $1.15 million, marking an 18% drop from two years ago.

That means 50% of MLB players made between the minimum salary of $570,500 and $1.15 million last year before taxes and other fees. While some MLB stars are among the highest paid athletes in the world, the reality is that most players earn well below the league average salary.

For every Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole, there are dozens of other MLB players who don’t even make one-tenth of the league minimum. For example, players who were included on a 40-man roster for the first time last year received only $46,000. That’s on the heels of making only $14,700 in Triple-A.

Another thing to consider is the majority of MLB players won’t ever be in a position to accrue enough service time to earn substantially more money than what they are currently making. Some aren’t even lucky enough to qualify for salary arbitration and free agency, let alone the MLB pension plan, which is only possible by playing 10 seasons.

That is why the ongoing CBA negotiations between the league and union are so important. To depict the labor dispute as a battle between billionaires and millionaires is a disservice to the majority of players who will never fall into that category.

Buehler frustrated with team owners over MLB lockout

In a pair of now-deleted tweets, Los Angeles Dodgers union representative Walker Buehler expressed his frustration with MLB’s recent CBA proposal, noting the offer doesn’t even keep up with inflation.

Buehler followed up his original tweet by calling this an issue of labor versus ownership and thanked the fans who understand why they don’t give in to MLB’s demands of more pay cuts.

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