Major League Baseball implemented a new housing policy for minor leaguers for the 2022 season without input from players. After months to gauge opinion, minor leaguers are identifying red flags in how the plan could be implemented.
In a statement from the Advocates for Minor Leaguers player steering committee, the group identified three concerns that "present MLB teams the opportunity to cut costs rather than providing proper housing."
The concerns include teams being able to put two players in a bedroom, a lack of specific accommodations for players with spouses and children, and teams being allowed to use hotel rooms and host families rather than standard apartments and homes.
"In light of these three potential loopholes -- and for as long as the policy fails to ensure that each and every player will receive adequate housing accommodations -- all Minor League players should have the right to opt out of team-provided housing and instead receive a housing stipend or reimbursement," the statement reads.
The steering committee was created in December to provide strategic advice and leadership in the ongoing labor battle for better conditions across baseball's developmental levels.
MLB called the implementation of the new housing policy a "priority" in a statement Thursday.
"Like any new regulations, it is the responsibility of each Club to fulfill the requirements," MLB said in its statement. "Because of the policy's flexibility, Clubs may exceed the minimum standards and adjust based on individual circumstances. The goal of the industry is to ensure outcomes that benefit Minor League players and address various issues that predate the PDL structure announced in February 2021. We will continue to evaluate all aspects of the player development system and will look to build on the recent improvements."
While the league has locked out major leaguers, the same does not apply to minor leaguers, who do not have a union. As a result, the minor league season can start on time even if the major leagues do not.
While hotel rooms are not supposed to be used unless apartments, rental homes and host families are not possible, teams determine the feasibility, according to the league policy. Advocates for Minor Leaguers said it intends to publicly identify teams that fail to provide adequate housing accommodations during the 2022 season.
The steering committee said the housing policy is a step forward but that more remains to be done to address players' working and living conditions.