Minor League pitcher Burch Smith is going to miss the entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his elbow. However, because the Tampa Bay Rays used a loophole in MLB’s roster rules, the injury comes with a huge raise.
As a minor leaguer on the Rays’ 40-man roster, Smith would have made a salary of $US82,700 in 2015.
Now, Smith will make $US508,600, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, all because the Rays wanted to add another player to their big league roster.
Here is how it worked.
MLB teams have two official rosters. The first is what most fans are familiar with, the 25-man roster. This consists of players on the Major League roster or on the Major League disabled list.
The second official roster is the 40-man roster. This consists of all the players on the big league club (and disabled list) and up to 15 more players from the minors. Smith was on the 40-man roster, but not the 25-man roster before he got hurt.
There is a loophole in the 40-man roster that allows teams to carry more than 40 players. If a player on the 25-man Major League roster is placed on the 60-day disabled list (typically reserved for the most serious injuries), he no longer counts against the 40-man limit of the 40-man roster.
After Smith’s injury, the Rays wanted to promote a minor leaguer who was not on the 40-man roster. To do that, though, they needed to first open up a spot on the roster since it was already full. Instead of releasing another player, they decided to use the loophole — promoting the injured Smith to the 25-man Major League roster and then placing him on the 60-day disabled list.
But the loophole is not without cost. Since he is now technically in the big leagues, Smith is now eligible for the Major League minimum salary. Instead of playing all year and making the ~$US80,000 he would have made as a minor leaguer on the 40-man roster, he’s making six times that while on the Major League disabled list. It’s a ~500% raise.
Surely this is not how Smith envisioned his promotion to the big leagues. But at least he is getting paid like a big leaguer.
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