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Friday, June 25, 2021

Partner Leagues Face Player Shortage As MLB Clubs Purchase Contracts At Record Rate

A confluence of events has left the baseball talent coffers dry, which has led professional partner leagues (known as independent leagues until this year) to set records for the number of players that have had their contracts sold to Major League Baseball teams.

The Atlantic League has sent 46 players to MLB clubs this year. The American Association has sent 64, and the Frontier League has sold 36 contracts.The Pioneer League has sold four contracts in its first year as a partner league.

That’s 150 players sent to MLB clubs and the partner league seasons are just a month old. At this time in 2019, those leagues had sent 77 players to MLB clubs. The American Association has already broken its record for player transfers in a year (50). The records for the Atlantic League (72) and Frontier League (53) are also on pace to be shattered as well.

At this time in 2019, the American Association had sold the contracts of 28 players; the Atlantic League had sold 35 contracts and the Frontier League had sold 14.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 25, 2021 at 01:23 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: minor leagues, partner leagues

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   1. villageidiom Posted: June 25, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6026318)
1. Is this a byproduct of having fewer minor-league teams? I assume it is, but I'm curious if there's another factor at play here.

2. Given increased demand, I'd think independent leagues would start raising the sale prices of these contracts. Can they?
   2. The Duke Posted: June 25, 2021 at 02:23 PM (#6026319)
Massive injuries account for this plus the fact that MLBs minor league talent simply didn’t play much last year so they are all rusty/bad. Any port in a storm
   3. Jay Seaver Posted: June 25, 2021 at 03:08 PM (#6026329)
1 - It sure sounds like the majors are basically using the "partner" leagues to make up for their thinner minors, which isn't necessarily bad in theory (not all teams need the same amount of redundancy/depth at every position), although it sure seems to put a lot of the risk on the small businesses and unsigned players who will have a harder time weathering it than the multi-billion dollar clubs. I also wouldn't be shocked if the partner teams couldn't raise the sales prices now; I suspect that a player's agent might put it in their contract that a club has to accept an offer of at least $X from a major league team, and the clubs seriously underestimated demand.
   4. Rally Posted: June 25, 2021 at 04:28 PM (#6026338)
There's plenty of ballplayers available to these teams if they can get past a little thing like not having "talent".

Let me know if you can use a 50 year old right handed pitcher who throws 65.
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 25, 2021 at 05:38 PM (#6026354)
Unsurprisingly, every single player was a reliever.
   6. John Northey Posted: June 25, 2021 at 06:34 PM (#6026369)
Not shocking. In the past the lowest minors would've been adding guys who had been drafted but never intended to be signed, just to fill out roster space in the lower minors. Jays have used a guy who retired already in Jared Hoying - he was playing local softball at the start of the year, then the Jays called him to fill in AAA OF, then he did well enough to get a ML call-up to fill space with 2 guys on paternity leave and Springer still on the IL (0 for 3 and now off the 40 man). Crazy year indeed.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2021 at 06:36 PM (#6026370)
Ugh ... whatever was at that link wasn't directly informative but did hurt my eyeballs. Are we talking player moves that land the guy directly onto a 25-man roster or are we talking a purchase then the guy goes to A/AA? If the latter, that's just the modern equivalent of promoting bodies from low A to high A. If it's the former, that's a bit weird but I suppose that's teams just needing cover for a few days, not wanting to move a real prospect onto the 40/25, then cutting this new guy as soon as the next body comes off the IL or the guy does his 2-inning mop-up stint.

The average team has used about 42.5 batters** (some of these are the same guy playing for multiple teams). The Rox have used only 35 which is a big outlier. I have no idea how many teams would have usually used at this point but back in 2019 the NL averaged 48 for the full season so I assume they are way ahead of that pace. It's about 23 pitchers and 20 position players although the pitcher count will include any position players who took the mound.

** Nerd point: the way b-r seems to handle that is that any pitcher that appears also gets a line in a team's list of "batters." If the only appearances are in DH games, they get a 0 in the PA column and blanks everywhere else; if they actually appear in the lineup but never bat, they get 0's everywhere else. I think. Anyway, near as I can tell, the number of batters a team has used is the number of players they have used. Certainly don't add pitchers and batters.
   8. Dr. Pooks Posted: June 25, 2021 at 10:09 PM (#6026421)
2016 Hardball Times article

This article says in 2016 that MLB paid 4000$ for in-season players bought from independent ball (3000 to the team and 1000 to the league) and 1$ in the offseason with a 1499$ bonus if the player plays in an affiliated game later in the year.

Given how we saw the MLB extort MiLB out of existence over the last year or two, I very much doubt independent leagues or teams have any leverage or say at all over the fees they can sell their players for.

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