By J.J. Cooper
The Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between Major League Baseball and minor league teams expires at the end of the 2020 season. But if a new MLB proposal were to become reality, more than three dozen cities with affiliated minor league teams will lose those teams a year from now and thousands of minor league players will be out of work as well.
The MLB proposal is just one idea at the start of what will likely be a lengthy negotiation, but the two sides are further apart than they have been in any PBA negotiation since 1990. At the core of the negotiations, MLB is looking to dramatically improve Minor League Baseball’s stadium facilities as well as take control over how the minor leagues are organized as far as affiliations and the geography of leagues. Those areas have been under the control of MiLB for the past 100-plus years and would lead to a dramatic restructuring of how MiLB is governed and operates.
MLB has offered a proposal that, if adopted, would reduce Minor League Baseball from 160 teams—not counting the complex league teams that are wholly MLB-owned—to 120 beginning in 2021.
The proposal is described as a preliminary offering subject to alteration. But if the proposal, or some version of it, is adopted, it will lead to the most dramatic restructuring of the minor leagues in more than half a century. Under the proposal, not only would more than 25 percent of MiLB teams be eliminated, but the remaining leagues would also be dramatically reworked with some leagues getting much smaller, others getting bigger, and teams switching classification levels all around the country.