MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Defends Antitrust Exemption

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has sent a 17-page letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in which he defends MLB‘s partial antitrust exemption. 

The Committee recently requested that Manfred explain the league’s need for the antitrust exemption, which has been in place in varying forms since 1922 when the Supreme Court ruled that MLB was exempted from the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Senate’s latest inquiry into the exemption stems at least in part from MLB’s decision to contract the number of affiliated franchises in the minor leagues. 

Last December, four of those de-affiliated teams filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging the commissioner’s office had violated the Sherman Act. As well, the antitrust exemption has also come under scrutiny because of the wages paid to minor-league players. 

In Manfred’s letter, he in part addressed assertions by the non-profit Advocates for Minor Leaguers in which they argued the antitrust exemption worsens the working conditions of minor-league players. In his letter, Manfred writes: 

“We respectfully submit that the opposite is true — the baseball antitrust exemption has meaningfully improved the lives of Minor League players, including their terms and conditions of employment, and has enabled the operators of Minor League affiliates to offer professional baseball in certain communities that otherwise could not economically support a professional baseball team.”

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