If Major League Baseball gets its way, there will be big changes in Minor League Baseball in the next year as they are hoping stadium improvements, geographic realignment and the removal of 42 affiliates.
MLB has argued the financial benefits that would come from these changes, particularly for the players who are inarguably underpaid, and also the benefits for player development with fewer players in each organization’s farm system.
The 42 teams that would be eliminated would still be able to exist and feed players into MLB organizations, but they would be considered independent teams.
MiLB is not in favor of these changes and Minor League president Pat O’Conner expressed his displeasure, via Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
“Those communities will lose their baseball as a result of the economics,” O’Conner said. “This is not strictly about facilities and player health and wellness. I think it’s a matter of them wanting to exert more control over the minor leagues.
“I don’t think they have a right to juggle our organization, and they’ve been very firm about (saying): You need to do this. If you don’t, we’ll go find somebody who will.
There is still time for the two sides to come to an agreement, and they are expected to meet once again in the coming months before the Winter Meetings. If they are unable to, O’Conner is prepared to get organization officials involved:
“If we are forced to defend ourselves and fight for our mere survival, we will. We would hope to negotiate a reasonable settlement with MLB. Short of that we have multiple options. Appealing to Congress, state, county and local elected officials is certainly one of them.”
There are some changes that could be made that MiLB would view as beneficial, such as geographic realignment so players do not have to travel as far. O’Conner said that MiLB is even willing to decrease teams, just not as rapidly as MLB is proposing.
This issue of lack of compensation for Minor League players has been present for a long time, so it is good to see that MLB is finally attempting to address it.
Some of the changes they are proposing may be a bit radical though and it doesn’t seem like MiLB is going to back down unless the two sides can reach a fair agreement.