Jesus Camargo is a 25-year-old pitcher in the Chicago Cubs system, and he has never played higher than the top level of A-ball. He hasn’t played since 2019; he’s not a bonus baby and probably needs money to live on. Fox 8 posted an AP story about Camargo’s arrest and the 21 pounds of meth and 1.2 pounds of oxycodone pills that were found in his duffle bag when he was pulled over by the police on St. Patrick’s Day during a traffic stop in Vail Colorado. More on that here: https://fox8.com/news/minor-league-cubs-player-caught-with-21-pounds-of-meth-in-duffel-bag-sheriff/
Carmargo’s Cubs duffel bag had $1,000 in it. I’m not condoning this but with no minor-league baseball last year, and the “reorganizing” of the minor leagues, it left a lot of human beings out in the cold. The easy thing to say is to go and get a job. But so many players have a hard time giving up on their dream. They were once the best in their high school and a few other teams before they get signed by a major league club.
According to The Athletic, the salary of baseball players in A-ball was $6,000 and $15,000 in AAA in 2018. That’s what you make on a summer job. I wrote a book with Nikco Riesgo (also from The Game podcast), a while ago called “Strike Three”. We talk about how back then players had a hard time making ends meet. Now it’s even harder. If you’re from a well-to-do family, or you play college ball, you can do it. Otherwise, it’s very hard.
This article details why minor league baseball players are making so little. They don’t even get paid to attend spring training!
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A class-action suit is still in progress, so some can hope for that. Honestly, if your son, nephew, or friend hasn’t made a major league salary by the age of 24, most will hang it up because they won’t be able to afford to play the game they love. Some won’t think that’s a big deal, but I do. There’s so much money in the sport.
At this point, unless a player is two years from hitting the big leagues after college or after being drafted, look to play in Japan where the pay is good, but they do limit the number of imports. Or try out for the KBO. They pay better even after the salary cap where they’ve dropped import salaries to a million for foreign players. There’s no limit to how many they can sign, but they can only have four on the 25-man gameday roster. They’re most likely going to look for big names, but it’s worth a flight and a tryout to exhaust all possibilities before you give it all up.
Carmargo’s arrest has sparked a lot of conversation, and he’s now facing serious drug charges. The reality is many minor leaguers can’t afford to play their sport.