Things have bad enough for fans of minor league baseball with Covid-19 running rampant through the country. Now, there are the looming contract talks between Minor League Baseball and their big brother, Major league baseball. For the past thirty years, these talks have gone rather smoothly between the two sides with ten-year agreements being the end result. However, this time, things are different. That’s because MLB is interested in changing the rules and contracting some minor league teams in the process.
Last Wednesday, the two sides got back to trying to negotiate a new deal that would bring peace to the two sides. By all accounts, the talks went well. The current deal comes to an end on September 20, so the clock is ticking. What could make matters even more difficult is the possibility of no minor league ball being played because of the health issues the country is facing. There are up to four short-season minor leagues and as many as 42 teams that have a keen interest in how these talks go. That’s because these leagues and teams may very well be on the chopping blocks when it comes time to dot the I’s and cross the T’s on this deal.
See, Major League Baseball has this crazy idea that less is more. And what I mean by that is this. Under MLB’s new plan each team would have four full-season affiliates, their rookie-league team playing in their spring-training site, and a team playing summer ball in the Dominican Summer League. The idea behind this would be to save money from having fewer minor league teams to fill rosters for. Which goes along with the idea of holding the draft later in the summer and having fewer rounds associated with it. Those players that were either drafted or signed as free agents by major league teams would likely get the summer off and thus would not need a minor league team to be added to. But how does this idea grow the game? If you take the game away from cities and towns across this country, why would they still be interested in it? And what of the 42 teams that might be affected by this you ask? They could still be affiliated with Major League Baseball in one form or another. All of this is taking place at a time when attendance at minor league games is on an upward swing. While at the major league level, those numbers continued to go down.
Plus major league baseball would like one more thing. That is for the owners of these teams and the cities and towns that house them to pony up the money to fix the ballparks they play in. In other words, to bring them up to current standards. The bottom line? If you or the town you play in is willing to spend money on your ballpark, then MLB has a place for you. If not, well you know the rest.
Who knew that a deadly virus could be a way for MLB to save some money given the recent report by Forbes that 28 of the 30 teams have increased in value? If owners of big-league teams can save some money at the minor league level, the longer their “happy dance will last”. Negotiations between the two sides will continue right through the summer. If the sides can stay focused, then a deal will be made. Let’s hope it’s not at a huge cost to fans of minor league baseball.
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