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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sources: MiLB Ready To Agree To Significant Reduction In Teams

An update on a long-standing topic:

When Major League Baseball proposed to Minor League Baseball last year its plan to cut the minor leagues from 160 teams to 120 affiliated teams in negotiations for a new Professional Baseball Agreement, such a proposal was greeted by many MiLB teams as unthinkable.

The world has changed dramatically over the past six months, especially now that the coronavirus pandemic has halted sports. When MLB and MiLB negotiators convene on a teleconference on Wednesday, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations say MiLB will indicate that it agrees to 120 affiliated teams in a new PBA.

Such a concession by MiLB could be a clear step toward a deal. MiLB has now agreed to find ways to come to agreement on almost all of MLB’s public demands. Now the open question is whether MLB will be willing to accept the concession as a foundation for a potential deal.

According to a source with insight into the thinking of both parties, MLB and MiLB have already found common ground on a number of the major outstanding issues that MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem laid out publicly in a letter to members of Congress last November.

 

QLE Posted: April 22, 2020 at 12:48 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues

Friday, March 20, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Creates ‘Disaster Situation’ For Some MiLB Teams

This past offseason was considered to be the toughest most Minor League Baseball teams had ever faced. Roughly a quarter of all MiLB teams were on the chopping block in an MLB proposal that headlined negotiations between MLB and MiLB on a new Professional Baseball Agreement for 2021 and beyond.

Those issues, while still significant, have faded into the background. They have quickly been replaced at the forefront by the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has quickly waylaid MiLB’s (and all of sports) 2020 season plans.

The PBA negotiations have been paused by both sides as they work to figure out how to adjust, adapt and answer the many questions raised by the suspension of the season.

As of mid-March, the long-term effects health-wise of COVID-19 in the U.S. are not yet apparent. MiLB owners and operators all speak of their concerns for the actual health of their communities. But while that is seen as a future unknown, the financial ramifications are already becoming quite clear.

 

QLE Posted: March 20, 2020 at 12:34 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, coronavirus, minor leagues

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

House asks comptroller general to study minor leagues

Tonight, on The Edge Of Contraction:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House of Representatives by voice vote approved legislation Tuesday to have the comptroller general of the U.S. study baseball’s minor leagues, which are trying to fend off a contraction proposal from major league clubs.

The bill calls on the comptroller general to “evaluate the social, economic, and historic contributions that minor league baseball has made to American life and culture.”

Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which governs the minors, are negotiating a Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires after this season. MLB’s proposal would drop the big league affiliation of 42 minor league teams and eliminate short-season leagues not held at major league training complexes.

“Major League Baseball would gladly participate in a serious Government Accountability Office analysis of the many problems in minor league baseball that are impeding the development of players,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement that cited “the widespread inadequacy of facilities, playing conditions, nutrition programs and burdensome travel demands. ”

Well, this is quite a turn, isn’t it?

 

QLE Posted: March 11, 2020 at 12:40 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: comptroller general, congress, contraction, minor leagues

Thursday, March 05, 2020

What’s Next in Fight to Protect Minor League Baseball?

On Wednesday, members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform are scheduled to consider H.R. 6020. If ultimately adopted, H.R. 6020 would require the Government Accountability Office to issue a “report on the social, economic, and historic contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to American life and culture.” Congresswoman Lori Trahan, who along with Congressman David McKinley lead a bipartisan Congressional effort to protect minor league teams, introduced H.R. 6020 last week.

A report by the GAO would likely become an influential document in negotiations between MLB and MiLB on a new professional agreement. Their current agreement is set to expire in September. MLB demands sizable changes to the economic relationship between the big leagues and the minor leagues. The most controversial of those changes would involve the severing of affiliations between MLB clubs and 42 minor league teams. While this severing wouldn’t force affected teams to fold, their expulsion from MLB-affiliated minor leagues, along with losses of financial support and MLB branding, would jeopardize their survival.

The economics of minor league clubs have a number of components, but player development contracts (PDCs) are a crucial ingredient. PDCs dictate the contractual affiliation between MLB teams and minor league affiliates. In general, PDCs call for MLB teams to pay the salaries of minor league players and staff. Meanwhile, owners of minor league teams typically cover expenditures for field upkeep, equipment, uniforms and other non-personnel operations. MLB officials are dissatisfied with this current arrangement. They have expressed a number of complaints, including that some minor league teams rely on dated facilities and are located far from their MLB parents. A number of targeted MiLB teams reject the relevance of those lines of critique.

Depending on its findings and recommendations, a GAO report could make it more difficult for MLB to justify sweeping changes. The report would be authoritative, objective and credible. This reflects the nature of the GAO, a unique entity in Washington D.C. The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that provides evaluations and analyses for Congress. It is thus different from an executive agency, such as the Justice Department or the State Department, since it doesn’t report to the President. The nonpartisan quality of the GAO is also important. Neither the agency nor its leaders are beholden to the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader or the President. The fact that the GAO’s leader, the Comptroller General, serves a 15-year term illustrates that dynamic: he or she remains in office past the terms of multiple presidents and Congressional leaders.

A consideration of the latest step in the war over minor league contraction.

 

QLE Posted: March 05, 2020 at 12:57 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: congress, contraction, minor leagues

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Delegates swing for fences with resolution to keep minor league baseball

Today in minor-league contraction news:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A resolution to support the continuation of minor league baseball in West Virginia circled the bases in the House of Delegates.

As representatives of the West Virginia Power baseball organization observed from the balcony, the resolution passed the House of Delegates, 98-0 with two absences.

“As an avid baseball fan and former Little League all-star, I can’t imagine a Mountain State without baseball,” said Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, who elicited laughter when he mentioned his youthful accomplishments.

“That is our pipeline to the major leagues.”

 

 

QLE Posted: February 22, 2020 at 12:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues, west virginia

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Untangling a Minor League Mess, Part II

And now, the second part of this story:

Earlier this week, we discussed the principle bone of contention between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball regarding MLB’s proposed contraction plan. MLB wishes to, among other things, transfer more control and money away from minor league baseball and eliminate short-season baseball. While they have tried to make their case that the measure is not a cost-saving one, that case isn’t particularly persuasive, as discussed in Part I of this series.

But while contraction is a cost-saving measure, that doesn’t mean major league teams don’t have a more efficient way of producing good major league players than in the current system, and that argument deserves to be assessed on its own merits. David Laurila recently talked to some MLB executives who explained some of their thoughts on the potential changes, and in a piece at FiveThirtyEight, Travis Sawchik laid out the potential benefits of fewer minor league teams while including keeping the level of competition higher, preventing teams from preying on players with little chance of reaching the majors and putting players closer to spring training sites where the quality of facilities is better and the coaching is more concentrated. (It’s worth noting that MLB hasn’t actually done a very good job of making that argument.)

 

QLE Posted: February 13, 2020 at 01:24 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Untangling a Minor League Mess, Part I

In 2011, Major League and Minor League Baseball agreed to extend their current Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) through the 2020 season. That agreement, which extended a prior agreement that wasn’t set to expire until 2014, maintained the status quo between the majors and the minors that most fans are familiar with today. There would continue to be over 160 affiliated minor league teams, with each team’s major league parent organization providing the players and the minor league clubs providing the facilities, travel, and fans. That agreement also included an increase in the ticket tax minor league teams pay to major league teams based on ticket revenue. That PBA is set to expire at the end of this season, and Major League Baseball wants to make drastic changes to the next agreement, changes that would dramatically reshape the minor leagues as we know them now.

The negotiations, which have thus far been quite ugly, first became public back in October when Baseball America revealed some details of MLB’s proposal (Baseball America, and JJ Cooper in particular, has done a great job covering the dispute); a later New York Times report confirmed the 42 teams set for contraction. Since then, the two sides have traded public missives, accusing each other of engaging in behavior that is not in the best interest of baseball.

Cumulatively, the changes proposed by MLB represent a move to gain power and consolidate control over the minor leagues. The MLB plan would move the amateur draft later in the year and decrease its number of rounds, get rid of short-season baseball, remove one-fifth of the independently owned full-season teams, take control of the Florida State League, and restructure existing leagues and reclassify some teams. The cumulative effect of these changes would be to diminish the power of MiLB relative to MLB and to potentially lower affiliate value for independently owned minor league franchises. With such sweeping and fundamental changes on the table, there’s a lot to sort through. But to get to the core of what’s at stake, it’s helpful to unpack one of the most significant changes under consideration: getting rid of short-season baseball.

To understand where Minor League and Major League Baseball come down on short-season ball, I will pose a few introductory questions and answer them based on my own understanding of the leagues’ respective positions before diving into the meat of the argument.

Another nice mess, courtesy of Rob “Stan” Manfred.

 

QLE Posted: February 12, 2020 at 01:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sunday Notes: MLB Executives Weigh in on the Implications of MiLB Contraction

Almost inexplicably, the proposed contraction of 42 minor league teams has largely become second-page news. Baseball’s biggest story just a few short months ago, a potentially cataclysmic alteration of the game’s landscape has found itself overshadowed by cheating scandals, managerial mayhem, and the controversial trade of a superstar by a deep-pocketed team. In arguably one of the most-tumultuous off-seasons ever, a hugely-important issue lies almost dormant within the news cycle.

Here at FanGraphs, we’re doing our best not to let that happen. My colleague Craig Edwards is taking an in-depth look at the situation — expect those articles in the coming days — and what you’re seeing here serves as a lead-in to his efforts. My own opinions aren’t included. What follows are the thoughts of a handful of high-ranking MLB executives, the bulk of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In the opinion of one GM, lawsuits are likely, if not inevitable. Speaking on the record would thus be an invitation to trouble. Another pointed out that the ongoing discussions are at the league level, and independent of individual teams. For that reason, offering a public opinion wouldn’t be in his best interest.

With no exception, each executive expressed that his organization’s bottom line is to optimize player development, regardless of the structure of the minor leagues. An American League GM put it this way:

“I don’t think [contraction] would change our operations that much in terms of what we’re focused on internally. We want to put the best resources in front of our players, and whether we have 10 minor league teams, five minor league teams, or somewhere in between, we’re going to do the same thing.”

Come for the serious consideration of a major topic- stay for the Greg Maddux stories and notes on player-pitcher records.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

House resolution proposed against minor league contraction

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four members of the House of Representatives introduced a resolution Tuesday urging Major League Baseball not to follow through with its proposal to eliminate 42 current minor league teams.

MLB made the proposal last year to the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the minors, during negotiations for a Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires after the 2020 season.

MLB wants to cut short-season leagues and reduce the number of farm teams each big league club affiliates with. It has proposed replacing the eliminated minor league teams with a not yet defined Dream League, somewhat similar to collegiate summer leagues.

The resolution was introduced by Reps. Lori Trahan, D-Mass.; David McKinley, R-W. Va.; Max Rose, D-N.Y.; and Mike Simpson, R- Idaho.

For those curious, the full text is here:

https://trahan.house.gov/uploadedfiles/trahan_056_xml.pdf

 

QLE Posted: January 29, 2020 at 12:28 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: congress, contraction, minor leagues

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Mayors launch task force to oppose minor league contraction

This week in contraction news:

Dozens of mayors from across the United States have formed a task force opposing a proposal by Major League Baseball to eliminate 42 affiliated minor league franchises for the 2021 season.

The coalition launched Tuesday with three leaders and was up to 30 members by Wednesday afternoon, ranging from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Hillsboro, Oregon.

“All of us understand this plan is a major league error,” Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said.

MLB and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues are negotiating a minor league agreement to replace the contract expiring after the 2020 season. MLB has proposed cutting more than a quarter of its 160 affiliates, citing concerns over the quality of facilities, travel and player salaries.

 

QLE Posted: January 23, 2020 at 12:51 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: contraction, minor leagues

 

 

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