In October 2021, ESPN reported that Major League Baseball will require all 30 teams to provide housing for the vast majority of minor league players for the first time ever starting in 2022. The league expanded on the policy in a November press release, saying “To the extent that apartments, rental homes, or host families are not feasible at a PDL (Professional Development License) level, Clubs may choose to provide hotel rooms that satisfy standards put in place.”
According to a recent report from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber, the Phillies appear to be the only organization in the sport that has failed to secure apartment-style housing for players across all four stateside minor league affiliate locations. Minor leaguers in Clearwater, Fla, Lakewood, N.J, Reading, Pa. and Allentown, Pa. are living in hotel rooms. Players at Double-A Reading, according to a preseason housing memo obtained by Lauber, must check in and out of their hotel rooms before and after a homestand and take all of their belongings with them on the road.
The new housing mandate was a historic victory for minor leaguers. No longer will players have to deal with the burden of both finding housing and paying for it on an already tight budget. Phillies minor leaguers, however, did not expect to be living out of a suitcase for six months.
The Phillies are not in violation of the league’s new housing policy. Instead, they are essentially doing the bare minimum and players are expressing frustration.
“This is typical Phillies [crap],” one anonymous player told Lauber. “Even the [Oakland] Athletics are giving their players apartments, and that’s one of the cheapest owners in baseball. If you’re going to be a $2 billion company, at least treat your employees better.”
Of course, a league mandate to provide housing for minor leaguers would not be necessary if players were paid a living wage. Most minor leaguers made between $8,000 to $14,000 during the 2021 season, according to the uniform player contract. Weekly pay ranges from $400 to $700 and most players work long hours during the offseason to supplement their income.
Phillies minor leaguers living in the team-issued hotel rooms are also required to share that room with a teammate. According to the organization Advocates for Minor Leaguers, 14 teams guarantee every player at every affiliate level their own separate bedroom.
Some teams, including the Baltimore Orioles, have provided minor leaguers fully furnished apartments that are able to accommodate players with spouses and children. If a player in the Phillies organization wanted to live with their family during the season, the player would have to opt out and pay for their own housing as guests are not permitted to stay overnight.
Lee McDaniel, the Phillies’ director of minor league operations, said the Phillies conducted “exhaustive research” in their process to secure housing for around 150 players from April to September. He cited the increased demand for rental units as a reason for why fewer apartments in the affiliate markets are available.
Players dispute that line of reasoning, with one anonymous player telling Lauber,“We found apartments, no problem. It’s just the fact that [the Phillies] didn’t look and didn’t try. They couldn’t open their tablet or the computer and just go to apartments.com.”
The Phillies, along with the 29 other major league teams, were informed of the policy change in November at the latest.
The team’s player development system has come under fire in recent years. A 2021 report from The Athletic details a “dysfunctional” culture under the previous regime. It’s well known that the Phillies have struggled to consistently develop major league talent from within. It’s arguably the biggest reason why the Phillies’ playoff drought is a decade long.
They made changes at the very top last season with the hiring of new farm director Preston Mattingly.
For a team that’s asking their fanbase for patience when it comes to rebuilding the farm system, finishing dead last when it comes accommodating the basic needs of players in year one with a brand new regime is not a good look.
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