SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred stepped up to the podium Tuesday in Arizona and spent nearly every second of his half hour press conference talking about the Houston Astros.
The cheating scandal has taken over the sport, and for good reason, but once this all passes, there are other important issues on players' minds. First and foremost for prospects and older minor leaguers is one familiar to any worker. They want to be paid what they believe is fair, and this season the Giants will take a step in that direction.
The organization will raise the pay for minor leaguers across the board a year ahead of similar raises that will go into place across the sport for the 2021 season. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman, who first reported the raises, the raises will add up to more than $500,000 per year for the franchise.
That's right around the MLB minimum for just one player, so this is an issue that is far from settled from a minor leaguer's perspective. But the raises are a start, and one the Giants have been contemplating for a while. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he has wanted to do this, and the organization was headed in this direction even before he came on board.
"There was a lot of momentum, a lot of support from ownership, from the business operations side, so it was really a consensus that had been built," Zaidi said. "There was some momentum behind it before I came into the organization. Just from a personal standpoint, I'm excited that we're able to do it.
"It does a lot of good for the organization and I think it's the right thing to do."
MLB already was set to raise Triple-A minimum salaries from $502 a week to $700, with Double-A going from $350 to $600 and Single-A going from $290 to $500. The Giants are raising the Triple-A salaries a tad higher, to $750, and will add housing allowances, per The Chronicle.
The Giants became the second team to do this, joining the Toronto Blue Jays, who instituted raises last season. Later Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Cubs will have increases of at least 50 percent this season.
Minor league pay is a problem that is headed for courts and has caught the attention of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who tweeted late last year that he would demand that MLB pay minor leaguers "a living wage." It makes little sense that MLB could approve raises but make players, many of whom have offseason jobs to get by, wait until 2021 to see a change in their paycheck, but Zaidi said the Giants were talking about moving the timetable up before they found out MLB was planning any raises at all.
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The Giants have put significant resources into making life easier for their players, with a new $50 million facility now in place at Scottsdale Stadium and another one for minor leaguers being built a few miles away. Players would tell you they still could do more, though, and Zaidi said there could be further raises down the line.
"I don't know that the adjustment that we've made for 2020 is an endpoint," he said. "I think we'll continue to evaluate it. We're going to be looking to get feedback from players on how it's helping. It's a quality of life issue, a convenience issue, a time issue. Just getting a better sense of all that is something we'll continue to evaluate."