The K Zone

Duffy’s Corner: The Curious Case of MLB Rookies’ Salary

By: Michael Duffy

corey-seager-yasiel-puig

“No one starts out on top. You have to work your way up.” – Muhammad Ali 

 

 That quote is true for most things in life. For instance, if you want to be an actor you’re going to start as a minor character first, you don’t just get to star in a movie overnight. And in baseball you start as a Minor Leaguer and you work your way up through the different levels until you reach the majors and that big money contract. Well when I was looking at the payroll for the Dodgers, something peculiar stood out to me that seemed to diminish this idea of working your way up. I noticed that in 2013, the Dodgers paid Yasiel Puig $3,714,285 in his rookie year, while in 2016 Corey Seager only got paid $510,000. I know I said “only $510,000”; how is that a problem when that’s eight times the average American salary?! But does that seem fair that the 2016 Rookie of the Year got 1/7th of the money Puig did while having seven more home runs? This kind of thing can be seen on pretty much every team, but I chose this example because I know more about these two players then, say, someone on the Brewers.

 

 Let me explain why this is. So each year every player from the U.S. and Puerto Rico
who wants to play professional baseball is required to enter the MLB Draft. During the draft, teams can pick the player they want when it’s their turn to pick. This was created because teams like the Athletics, who have less money, couldn’t afford to get good players because richer teams like the Yankees could just pay a little more to each player to get them to sign, thus creating these amazing teams while the poor teams would have a third rate team and have no shot at the World Series. So the draft was used to level the playing field and give every team the chance to acquire talented players. Rich teams didn’t really care because that just gave them more money to recruit from around the world. So while players in the U.S. and Puerto Rico are not able to sign big contracts, a kid from Cuba could be signed and get a million dollar contract six years before the drafted player could. That’s exactly what happened in the case of Seager and Puig. This year there was talk about adding an international draft as a solution to this issue in the new CBA, but that did not happen. I think there should really be an international draft because it would really help even this problem out. At the moment there are caps you can spend overseas but this only applies to players of a certain age groups, and the age group differs country-to-county.

I think that it’s not fair to players who work hard to not get an equal amount just based on where they’re from. Here are the average salaries of the players from those countries
Players Country Avg. Players Salary from that Country
Japan $4,992,825
Korea, South $4,137,121
Cuba $3,374,247
Venezuela $2,309,672
Mexico $2,356,972
United States $2,184,456
Dominican Republic $1,914,121
Puerto Rico $752,586

Source: Spotrac

I only included the top eight countries that produce players up above. If you noticed two of the last three countries on the list are the ones in the draft. That’s kind of weird because according to Ranker, none of the top 25 players in the MLB are from Japan, South Korea, or Cuba, or Mexico, while Venezuela has three. Overall, 22 of the top Major Leaguers are from the United States, so it’s crazy that they should be paid less. Let me know what you think!

If you liked this check out my interview with Dodgers prospect Chase Dejong! 

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