US Rep. Lee Questions MLB Antitrust Exemption

A federal legislator views the Oakland A’s relocation initiative as a chance to challenge MLB’s longstanding antitrust exemption.

Representative Barbara Lee, from Oakland, sent a letter on Monday addressing MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and questioning the appropriateness of the league’s federal antitrust exemption. Lee specifically referred the league’s encouragement for the A’s relocation fee waiver, following their move from Oakland, California, and asked if it is appropriate in light of these actions.

Lee referred to Manfred’s letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2022, where he stated that the MLB antitrust exemption is beneficial in maintaining strong connections between MLB clubs and their fan bases, unlike franchises in other sports that frequently relocate to different markets.

Related: Department Of Justice Questions MLB Antitrust Exemption

The antitrust exemption has been the subject of review in recent years, and in June 2022, a bipartisan group from the Senate Judiciary Committee initiated an examination to determine its continued appropriateness.

After MLB terminated 40 minor league teams in 2020, minor league players joined MLBPA and advocated for better salaries and working conditions, resulting in successful improvements.