According to Baseball America, there will be a video conference between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball on Wednesday. According to the baseball magazine, a source with insight into the thinking of both parties, MLB and MiLB have already agreed on a number of the major outstanding issues regarding the contraction of 42 MiLB teams.
It is clear that the coronavirus plays a part in this. Many minor league teams have a hard time staying afloat as no baseball is played. With a new agreement, they may expect some financial support of the Big League Teams in order to stay alive.
When MLB announced the plans to contract 42 MiLB teams and to scratch most of Rookie and Low A ball, it was unheard according to Minor League Baseball. Now the organization is willing to meet MLB’s demands.
Both sides seem to agree to the fact that several Minor League facilities need to be improved. With the upcoming agreement by Minor League Baseball, MLB sees its biggest wish granted: Four full-season minor league levels and a Rookie-level that will be played at the Spring Training facilities of MLB clubs.
As MLB and the MLBPA already agreed on cutting the number of draft rounds it became clear that the number of minor league players would be lower. As a result, fewer minor league teams will be needed.
MiLB also appears to be ready to give MLB teams greater control over choosing their affiliates. According to Baseball America, “MiLB has indicated a willingness to work with MLB on shortening travel and improving the geographical cohesiveness of leagues.”
42 teams will stop existing or will be playing in the so-called Dream League, MLB has been proposing or in Summer wood bat leagues. Two places will be taken by current independent teams: the Saint Paul Saints and the Sugarland Skeeters. When it comes to the Saints, one can wonder if the Minnesota Twins will agree on a minor league team in its territory. The same goes for the Skeeters as Sugarland is close to Houston. But don’t be surprised if these two teams will become AAA affiliates of the Twins and the Astros.
The so-called Dream League is not regarded as financially viable by many. So now MLB is looking for a different option. What catches the eye is the following quote: “Now, MiLB and MLB are expected to discuss the parameters of a system where the two sides could work together to ensure that most of the cities that currently have affiliated baseball will have ties to MLB clubs, even if those cities’ teams will not be fielding draftees and signees of the MLB club. It wouldn’t be MLB’s initial proposal, but a system that has been adjusted to give those cities a better chance of a long-term viable, sustainable system.”
You can wonder if a MiLB team doesn’t field draftees and signees, how they will have ties with MLB clubs…
Assuming this source of Baseball America is right, this will be a huge blow for a lot of small-town communities for which minor league baseball is a binding factor. Local clubs provide work for a lot of people during the summer. With this disappearing, it will be hard for low educated people and students to earn some money during the baseball season. With this disappearing, professional baseball will be out of reach for a lot of fans that can only afford to attend minor league games.
The following teams are projected to be contracted but this list is still subject to change:
Binghamton Rumble Ponies
High Class A
Florida Fire Frogs
Low Class A
West Virginia Power
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
State College Spikes
Staten Island Yankees
Tri-City Dust Devils
Vermont Lake Monsters
Bluefield Blue Jays
Grand Junction Rockies
Great Falls Voyagers
Idaho Falls Chukars
Johnson City Cardinals
Rocky Mountain Vibes
Several teams will switch leagues. For example, the Pulaski Yankees will be moved to A ball while the Fresno Grizzlies (AAA, Pacific Coast League) will replace the Lancaster JetHawks in the California League (A-Advanced).
Furthermore, you can wonder what will happen with the ballpark plans of the Beloit Snappers. The construction of the ballpark was set to start in Spring 2020.
I can understand that MiLB has given in to the demands of Major League Baseball as it is looking to survive a time without baseball. But I cannot tell how disgusted I am with the latter.