M.L.B. Said to Be Pushing for major Overhaul of Minor Leagues, eliminate up to 40 teams.

soxhop411

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 4, 2009
36,832
Major League Baseball has proposed a radical restructuring of the lower level of the minor leagues that could eliminate or change the nature and affiliations of as many as 40 teams across the country.

One plan that has been discussed, according to two people familiar with the negotiations who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, would convert some teams from the lower-level minor leagues — short-season, rookie ball and lower Class A — into a so-called Dream League of undrafted players looking to break into professional baseball. Teams in that league would be co-owned and operated by M.L.B. and Minor League Baseball — a departure from the current system, in which the vast majority of teams are independently owned and operated.

The president of Minor League Baseball, Pat O’Conner, recently sent a letter to member teams, which was obtained by The New York Times, warning of significant impending changes and advising teams not to make any financial commitments, new lease agreements or schedules beyond 2020.
For some minor league teams, the proposal could mean losing their affiliation with M.L.B. clubs. The most vulnerable teams are those in the Appalachian League, Northwest League and New York-Penn League. Other short-season teams, like the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ short-season team in the New York-Penn League, could be converted to full-season teams, perhaps even in higher levels like Class AA.

But M.L.B. is committed to a significant change because officials feel that about one-fourth of the minor league teams are not operating at a high-enough standard for modern athletes. M.L.B. wants to increase player compensation — they have been sued over that issue — and upgrade facilities at several minor league ballparks with substandard training rooms and nutrition.

He also follows up in a tweet and says that they may also cut the MLB draft to 20 rounds and increased compensation for MILB players


View: https://twitter.com/davidwaldstein/status/1185240549026140160?s=21


View: https://twitter.com/davidwaldstein/status/1185243441657253888?s=21
Edit: baseball America has a lot more information on this proposal
 
Last edited:

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
41,950
I'd have to see the plan, but that could be interesting.

Cutting draft to 20 rounds and then those guys that now go undrafted heading to a new Dream League could be fun. MLB teams see how they react to a full-season wood bat league. Would all these players be free agents?
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
41,950
Aug 11, 2019
387
Not sure how many teams would go away though. They'd be converted into Dream League teams, and most upper-A and above teams wouldn't go anywhere.
I haven't tried the NYT article yet because I usually use my free reads pretty quickly but the BBA article talks about moving A-level clubs to AAA and vice versa. A few years back MLB said that a given level had to have so much seating and so much parking and the higher the level, the more needed. So what happens if you suddenly have an A club playing in an AAA stadium? Will they draw well enough to pay for the upkeep and the lighting? Would Las Vegas be happy dropping from AAA to A? (Not saying that would happen, just an example.)
 

RedOctober3829

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
46,369
deep inside Guido territory
This proposal would also move the draft to August. This would significantly affect college wood bat league and summer high school showcases. HS seniors would now have more time to impress scouts and draft-eligible players could go to the Cape and other leagues to be seen more.
 

nvalvo

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
17,541
Rogers Park
It sounds like the idea is to have fewer players (by about 1500, back of the envelope) who are affiliated with MLB clubs, and pay the remaining players more. That sounds good, I guess. Only accepting as many people as you can viably support makes a certain kind of sense. But what labor standards would apply to the Dream League players?

It seems like this new MLB/MiLB-coproduced "Dream League" would be like the Independent Leagues, but not really independent. What becomes of those leagues in this scenario?

I haven't tried the NYT article yet because I usually use my free reads pretty quickly but the BBA article talks about moving A-level clubs to AAA and vice versa. A few years back MLB said that a given level had to have so much seating and so much parking and the higher the level, the more needed. So what happens if you suddenly have an A club playing in an AAA stadium? Will they draw well enough to pay for the upkeep and the lighting? Would Las Vegas be happy dropping from AAA to A? (Not saying that would happen, just an example.)
The Brooklyn Cyclones, the team the NYT mentions perhaps moving up a couple levels from Low A to AA, have a park that is above the AA standard in seating, comparable in size to Hadlock.

It also sounds like the main motivation here would be to make the leagues more compact geographically, to cut down on bus travel.
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
51,921
This proposal would also move the draft to August. This would significantly affect college wood bat league and summer high school showcases. HS seniors would now have more time to impress scouts and draft-eligible players could go to the Cape and other leagues to be seen more.
Now JJ Cooper says:

"Want to apologize for an error. My initial reporting indicated that the MLB proposal would move the draft to August. Further reporting indicates it would be moved to after the College World Series, but not to August."
 

SoxFanInCali

has the rich, deep voice of a god and the penis of
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jun 3, 2005
12,497
California. Duh.
I haven't tried the NYT article yet because I usually use my free reads pretty quickly but the BBA article talks about moving A-level clubs to AAA and vice versa. A few years back MLB said that a given level had to have so much seating and so much parking and the higher the level, the more needed. So what happens if you suddenly have an A club playing in an AAA stadium? Will they draw well enough to pay for the upkeep and the lighting? Would Las Vegas be happy dropping from AAA to A? (Not saying that would happen, just an example.)
I've always found it funny that San Jose is the Giants single-A affiliate, it's got to be the only case where the A ball team is in a bigger city population-wise than the Major League team.
 

RedOctober3829

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
46,369
deep inside Guido territory
Now JJ Cooper says:

"Want to apologize for an error. My initial reporting indicated that the MLB proposal would move the draft to August. Further reporting indicates it would be moved to after the College World Series, but not to August."
Even if it's after the CWS I think that's a good move. It's not fair to the college players still involved in the tournament to miss draft night.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
I've always found it funny that San Jose is the Giants single-A affiliate, it's got to be the only case where the A ball team is in a bigger city population-wise than the Major League team.
The Oakland A's tried to move to San Jose but were not allowed because it was part of the San Francisco Giants' territory. The city of San Jose filed an antitrust lawsuit against MLB but the U.S. Supreme Court turned it down.

I went to a game there several years ago and they had a between-innings race with people carrying horse heads on long poles outside the stadium. You could see them going from foul pole to foul pole. Definitely better than the ones you now see on scoreboards.
 

SoxFanInCali

has the rich, deep voice of a god and the penis of
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Jun 3, 2005
12,497
California. Duh.
The Oakland A's tried to move to San Jose but were not allowed because it was part of the San Francisco Giants' territory. The city of San Jose filed an antitrust lawsuit against MLB but the U.S. Supreme Court turned it down.
Of course, the only reason the Giants have those rights is because they were going to move to San Jose after getting turned down yet again for a publicly funded ballpark, and the A's waived their rights to block it. How the league let them maintain those rights when they ended up staying in SF, I have no idea.

The Giants also have their AAA team in Sacramento (which used to be Oakland's AAA team), so basically the Giants have shut the A's out of anywhere in Northern California that has people and money.
 

curly2

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 8, 2003
4,152
It also sounds like the main motivation here would be to make the leagues more compact geographically, to cut down on bus travel.
I think the main motivation is to make MLB owners even richer.
 

Winger 03

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 15, 2003
1,352
Frederick, MD
I think the main motivation is to make MLB owners even richer.

curly2 has BINGO! This is bullshit - they are going to raise salaries by putting a lot of players out of work. The Dream League is crap too - they all but admitted that the pay will be very low but offset by the "opportunity to impress MLB scouts". I think MiLB owners will get the short end of the stick as well. Franchise values will drop, if they are among those teams selected to jump a level or two, they get to pay for that privilege, etc.
 

Max Power

thai good. you like shirt?
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
4,265
Boston, MA
This could help players who would have gone in the lower rounds of the draft. They no longer will sell their career rights for a small signing bonus, but will still have a place to play against others with similar talent. That could put them in line for a much larger signing bonus as an undrafted free agent if they're a standout in the new Dream League.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
According to an article in today's Globe, the NYP would be disbanded but three teams--Lowell Spinners, Vermont Lake Monsters, and Norwich Tigers--would move to the Dream League ("an MLB concept in line with independent or college leagues").

Not surprisingly, "MiLB does not accept the premise and the impetus for the proposals," especially as MLB has boasted recently about improved minor league attendance in the face of decreasing major league attendance.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2019/10/18/lowell-spinners-would-lose-red-sox-connection-under-radical-mlb-plan/8eLi2hN3Med8A9LUHfkt1I/story.html
 

JimD

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2001
7,489
Only MLB would think that depriving their product to millions of fans in the face of declining interest in the sport is a good thing.
 

Cumberland Blues

Dope
Dope
Sep 9, 2001
4,882
I don't get how this will work. It sounds like they'd be keeping the complex leagues (and the Dominican Summer League?) - but cutting out the short season and rookie leagues that transition guys from the complex leagues to full season ball, that's a big jump from complex league to lo-A - esp for the 17-18yr old foreign kids. And at a time when MLB should likely be considering expansion - cutting the number of minor league teams seems counter to that.

And are the Dream Leaguers eligible for the next draft - or since they're now "pro" players (likely paid less than current short season salaries), are they free agents in perpetuity until they're lucky enough to get signed by an MLB org?
 

sean1562

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 17, 2011
2,914
idk the exact details of how this will work, but minor league baseball needs a dramatic restructuring. I get everyone loves cheap tickets but stringing guys along for years with little to no pay just so your "good" prospects have someone to beat up on doesnt seem like a great business model. If the only way the minor leagues, as structured now, can sustain themselves is by paying these people obscenely low salaries, maybe they shouldnt really exist
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
On the other hand, what about the teen-aged baseball stars who manage to drag themselves through high school and get drafted. Do they just take a &7.50/hour job slinging burgers or sign a contract that gives them a chance to ball more ball and just perhaps lead to better?

There are a lot of independent professional baseball leagues now in existence. MLB can pluck future players from them at a lower cost.
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

Member
SoSH Member
May 5, 2017
786
idk the exact details of how this will work, but minor league baseball needs a dramatic restructuring. I get everyone loves cheap tickets but stringing guys along for years with little to no pay just so your "good" prospects have someone to beat up on doesnt seem like a great business model. If the only way the minor leagues, as structured now, can sustain themselves is by paying these people obscenely low salaries, maybe they shouldnt really exist
Player salaries are covered by the MLB organization. There is no connection between minor league ticket price and minor league player salary.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
20,400
Sounds to me that a good portion of this is lawyer driven. They have to increase wages and its just not cost-effective to do it with as many minor league teams as currently exist.
 

MuzzyField

Member
SoSH Member
Player salaries are covered by the MLB organization. There is no connection between minor league ticket price and minor league player salary.
Isn’t there more math to this? MiLB franchises have built an economic model on no on-field participation labor cost. AA teams that now go for millions were valued at less than 100-grand 30-years ago. MiLB owners have feasted on the marketing of branding and new ballparks. This is simply a trickle down of numbers efficiency from the MLB level. Science!
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Player salaries are covered by the MLB organization. There is no connection between minor league ticket price and minor league player salary.
There is no connection, per se; however, there probably is some connection between ticket price and the level of the minor league team. A few years back, it was decided that new AAA parks had to seat at least 10,000, AA -- 6,000, A -- 4,000, Short-season A and Rookie leagues -- 2,500. Also, there were parking requirements that varied by seating capacity. Some existing parks had to make changes.

Obviously, it costs more to run a 10,000 seat stadium than it does a 2,500 seat one. The cost of electricity for night games is just one example. There are a lot of factors but the seating capacity isn't always the best one. For example, the Brooklyn Cyclones (NYP - Short-season A, 4848) outdrew the Reno Aces (PCL - AAA, 4803) in 2019. Minor league baseball is a complicated business.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
14,530
Pittsburgh, PA
The right long-term solution for the prosperity of baseball, writ large, is (still) Joe Posnanski's proposal to Free The Minor Leagues. All this restructuring is just dancing around it rather than dealing straight with it, and it'd be a tragedy if 40 clubs were shuttered when 30 of them could be viable independent franchises in their own right.

Concept is like soccer leagues the world over:
  • there are multiple tiers, each playing a season against each other, with the best teams moving to higher competition and the worst to a lower tier of competition for the next year of play ("promotion and relegation")
  • Teams are independently owned; very few of them make any meaningful money, but also there are a ton that are financially stable, albeit humble
  • In England, only the top 5 tiers are fully professional, and the next few are semi-professional (or have a few full-time pros on the roster, with the rest semi-pro). In Germany and Spain, only the top 3 leagues are fully professional, and in France and Italy I think it's only the top 2. In England, the pay is very good (better than MLS) in the 2nd division, pretty good (~$100k/yr average) in the 3rd, and after that it's living wages but nothing impressive.
  • Players enter the professional ranks through the youth systems and academies of a given club; if they wash out of that club's youth system they can catch on with another (usually lesser) club, etc. There is no draft. However, it's still easiest to become a starter for a top club by moving through that club's youth system.
  • Conversely, if a player joins a lesser team and becomes a starter there, they can still advance to higher levels of play by having their contract bought by a bigger club (who invariably have bigger budgets, and also a lot of pressure to make a splash). As a result, smaller clubs can do some great business by becoming a place that identifies and develops talent, and then sells it "upstream" for small fortunes to acquiring clubs. The USA's best soccer player just spent the last 4 years doing that at perhaps the 2nd-best such soccer club on the planet (Borussia Dortmund), and ended up having his contract sold to the equivalent of an MLB team (Chelsea) for nearly $100M. Oh, and as part of that he got himself a hefty salary raise, too.
  • The crucial part: Teams are established in towns and small cities, sometimes rather out-of-the-way places, and come to represent that area's pride and be a part of their cultural identity, even if they're on the 8th tier of "the pyramid". You may not have the best players in the world, but if Springfield can beat Shelbyville, that's all its patrons really ask of it.
As Pos points out, baseball is a great regional sport. Where it's played, it's very popular, but if you don't have a team nearby, you probably don't fall in love with it. And yet - here are these hundreds of minor-league clubs (256!) which could all field competitive teams against regional competition, on humble budgets, but do so while trying their hardest to win. And that just doesn't happen when the club is essentially a host body for the MLB club's parasitic needs. At least, not optimally.

And there's a strange effect it has on the rest of baseball fandom, to look down on "independent leagues" as being some grotesque and anachronistic creations. Frankly, with all the oxygen in the baseball market that MLB sucks up, it's a testament to how much people love "just goin' to a baseball game" that the independents continue to exist at all - proof that you don't have to have the best players on the planet in order to be a great family-friendly entertainment experience.

Here's how an overhauled minor league system could operate more like global soccer, and gain awesomeness:
  1. MLB divests true controlling interests in the minor-league club to the current owners (who are essentially caretakers today), and/or finds new ownership that wants to run the team like an actual sports franchise, for whom winning and profitability are correlated. It gets out of the business of micromanaging each team. This means selling actual equity in the cases of MLB-owned teams, but also phasing out of the Player Development Contract system across all such teams.
  2. MLB teams each form ONE affiliated reserve or development team, which would play in the lower levels of the minors according to the club's performance and how much the parent invests in it.
  3. The MLB commissioner no longer has any say in how MiLB operates. MLB does not collectively-bargain on behalf of minor-league clubs.
  4. The minors reorganize to re-tiered leagues (the "Baseball Pyramid"), based partly on geography but also on stadium capacity. At all except the highest level of the minors, there will be multiple regional leagues at the same level (not different conceptually from today, except you get some weird alignment right now due to the whims of MLB clubs).
  5. All well-organized baseball joins the pyramid. That includes anything that's at-least-semi-pro: Cape Cod League, the Minnesota Baseball Assn, hell, include the Mexican League and anything decent in Canada. At lower tiers, it should also include the top-level rec baseball leagues in each major city, many of which are populated by former pros or near-pros and play an attractive game.
  6. For the tiers that are mostly- or fully-pro, clubs are able to make cash-only offers for any player on any team, whereby it'd be like trading for a player, except they just paid cash. Obviously they wouldn't go buying rec-league players, most transactions would occur within a reasonable geographic radius to avoid the player objecting, and just as obviously clubs would retain the rights to trade players as well as buy them. But the ability to just pay cash makes the market SO much more fluid.
  7. A club receiving an offer can accept or counter or refuse, but there would be terms in any pro player's standard contract for a "Release clause", which is an amount of money that any interested club can pay to the signing club to automatically release a player from his contract (for purposes of signing him for their own club, of course). If you really value a player highly such that you want to be sure to retain his services unless you get a Godfather offer, a player can demand increased salary in order to up that release-clause number.
  8. MLB clubs can buy and sell talent, between the big club but also between their reserve club and other minor clubs. One thing MLB would have to agree to is that they can't just offer a minors player a big-league contract and automatically have him get out of his existing contract, they'd have to compensate the minor-league club somehow, probably bigtime for a true top MLB prospect.
  9. To preserve some stability in a team's roster and a league's competitive environment, there would be limited windows of time each year when players can buy or sell. Most soccer leagues have a lengthy offseason "transfer window" and a shorter mid-season one, the activity for which ends up resembling a big-league trade deadline (except more front-loaded as larger teams address their needs first, throwing their financial weight around, and that money percolates down the pyramid). You might need to extend the window for MLB clubs to buy contracts from lower-tier clubs, perhaps just from their own Reserve team, but you'd need some deadline for clubs trading talent such that at some point they can go to war with the army they've got, and see who's the best at the end of the season.
  10. Likewise, you would want to have some sort of "Loan" system for MLB clubs to place major-league players who are recovering from injury on short-term rehab assignments; the MLB clubs would probably need to pay for the privilege, and there would probably be some limits on it as upper-tier Pyramid teams approached their playoffs, in order to maintain competitive integrity. There's definite tension between the goals of big-league clubs seeking rehab assignments and lower-tier leagues seeking competitive integrity and not being made into a mockery.
  11. At the end of the season, the top clubs in each league get promoted (or play-off against the bottom clubs in the next highest tier for the right to be promoted), and likewise the bottom clubs get demoted to the next lower tier (or play off against the would-be promotees). How many depend on how many clubs are in each league. The highest tiers may have some requirements clubs would have to meet (in seating capacity or amenities or financial solvency) to get promoted.
  12. MLB, being a closed association, would of course be under no obligation to have their clubs be a part of the promotion/relegation scheme. I'd argue that they should be willing to at least have a for-charity series between the winners of the 2nd-tier league and whichever MLB franchise is willing to play them, perhaps during playoff off-days in October. But this can all work even with no on-field interplay between MLB and the new Baseball Pyramid.
  13. To maintain competitive balance, the MLB commissioner would probably have to set some sort of limits for how much an MLB club can pay to acquire non-MLB players (no longer "minors") in a given year, and probably expand revenue sharing in order to give each team a more-equal shot at it despite the disparities in payrolls and budgets. Pyramid clubs would be under no such restrictions, if the owner of the Omaha Storm Chasers wants to spend a fortune to acquire the best-damn 2nd-tier club and win a title, god bless him.
  14. There would be no geographic restrictions on new clubs forming inside MLB cities and joining the Pyramid. A city like NYC might end up with dozens of clubs on all sorts of different levels. MLB can agree to its own anticompetitive behavior within the league, that's fine, but residents of MLB cities shouldn't have to be forced to pay MLB prices to just attend a baseball game. If the product justifies the price, people will go, but they should be free to feel allegiance to lesser teams too. This obviously would be a major financial sticking point to MLB agreeing, but it's essential to maximize the potential of baseball writ large. In practice in Europe, only cities like the greater London area end up having tons of teams at all levels; 2nd-tier cities tend to have clubs consolidate and merge in order to field one highly competitive team that can get lots of fan support (and maybe really low rec-level teams below that one).
  15. Promotion and relegation playoffs would occur during September, a time when many MLB clubs might be not doing much and interest in baseball would be waning for all except the fans of playoff-bound or still-in-the-hunt MLB teams. You'd definitely get the top tiers' playoffs televised, at least regionally.
  16. They'd have to put in place some sort of similar system for Fall and Winter ball, such that it can continue its function as development opportunities for plausible MLB prospects, while also competing for something meaningful and having fans attend. That would be a sideshow by comparison to the primary spring-and-summer League Pyramid, though.
  17. I have no idea what the Draft would become. Maybe Hockey has a reasonable hybrid model between the global soccer system (join a youth academy, or go pro in a lower level and get signed at progressively higher levels) and the North American system (all pros are drafted to developmental affiliates of big clubs, or directly to those big clubs in the case of NFL and NBA). One which would maintain competitive balance between big-league clubs, while not limiting the movement of younger pros up through the Pyramid in a way that helps their clubs as well as the players themselves. Perhaps draft rights would essentially become a (time-limited) Right of First Refusal for an MLB club to buy the contract of the draftee, but the draftee could otherwise pursue Pyramid employment and advancement in a free-market setting - with clubs extra-motivated to employ them, at least the high-rounders, because of the increased possibility that an MLB club would in fact come calling with their checkbook.
What would be the main effects? You'd have team owners able to invest in fielding a quality team, for one, and only selling talent when doing so would bring it so much money they could reinvest that and make the club even better. You'd have true market salaries for Pyramid clubs rather than today's lottery-ticket-style minimum-wage abomination. But most significantly, these clubs and players would have something to play for, other than just trying to look good individually and hope their parent club promotes them. Yeah, sure, the minors today have "playoffs", but the clubs could also be stripped bare of their talent at any moment, and have the entire season feel like a sham. In this scenario, with the exception of the MLB clubs' reserve teams (all of whom might not even be at the top level of the pyramid), that sham would end.

And the result would be much greater fan interest, at a much greater depth throughout the country. Any town of reasonable size could have a baseball club competing at some reasonable level of the pyramid, and you wouldn't need to charge much more than a $10 to get in, have some beers with friends and watch players throw, hit and catch in impressive fashion. If your local club in Greenville SC is in the (say) 5th tier, at the equivalent of A-ball today, you'd have other regional clubs that you'd get used to rivalries with, you'd cheer or boo the acquisition or disposition of talent, you'd get more excited about the possibility of the team getting promoted, not just a few hotshot prospects. And with greater interest in baseball overall, I'd wager TV ratings for MLB would go up as well, even if many of those incremental viewers couldn't reasonably get themselves to an MLB stadium to watch in-person. I think it would lift all boats, including big league clubs - but they'd only get there by giving away some control.

Oh, and those MLB owners? Not only would they gain from greater long-run TV revenue and interest, they'd also gain from the asset disposition of their MiLB team stakes. It's true that they couldn't demand a fortune for them today, but they could maintain passive minority stakes and then sell them once everything had stabilized a bit, and probably get a big chunk of capital appreciation from it. Those stakes today are completely illiquid, just value sitting there trapped by the lack of appeal of owning a minor-league team. Letting them get meaningful dollars (8 figures, surely) for those stakes across all their teams would essentially be conjuring up money for them out of nothing. I wager they'd listen to a proposal if that could be the result.
 
Last edited:
Aug 11, 2019
387
11. At the end of the season, the top clubs in each league get promoted (or play-off against the bottom clubs in the next highest tier for the right to be promoted), and likewise the bottom clubs get demoted to the next lower tier (or play off against the would-be promotees). How many depend on how many clubs are in each league. The highest tiers may have some requirements clubs would have to meet (in seating capacity or amenities or financial solvency) to get promoted
Might there not be a problem with clubs being promoted or demoted to a different league from the point-of-view of location, particularly in large states where the next league might be a couple of hundred or so miles away?
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
14,530
Pittsburgh, PA
Might there not be a problem with clubs being promoted or demoted to a different league from the point-of-view of location, particularly in large states where the next league might be a couple of hundred or so miles away?
well, the "league" exists over a vast geographic area bounded by its member teams. As it stands, though, a team has pretty accessible opponents almost no matter what part of the country it gets promoted or relegated to.

For example, the AAA-level International League has teams from Indianapolis and Louisville in the West, down to Gwinnett in the outer Atlanta Suburbs, and north to Pawtucket (alas) and Syracuse. That's a pretty big range, which is why it has 3 divisions, within which you play a greater fraction of your games. Even larger is the AAA Pacific Coast League, whose name is a bit of a farce since it has 4 divisions itself, with teams as far apart as Tacoma (in its Pacific Northern division) and Nashville and Memphis (in its American Southern division). Heck, Mexico is a pretty big place, and it sustains a AAA-level 16-team league, with two teams (Mexico City and Monterrey) having stadiums in excess of 20k capacity, a feat matched by zero US-based AAA teams.

Double-A has a bit of a regionality issue, as its teams are predominantly located in the northeast (Eastern League: Portland ME to Akron OH to Richmond VA), southeast (Southern League: Biloxi MS to nowheresville TN to Jacksonville FL), and the Texas League (Springfield Missouri to Corpus Christi). But you've got a range of options for how to shake out the various classes of Single-A, and even Rookie Ball, depending on whether it's best to structure the latter as a truly competitive league vs non-revenue developmental teams. And on top of that, you've got 8 Independent Leagues with viable franchises all across the country, whose level of competitiveness would shake out to varying degrees based on what quality of players they could afford.

Get a few years into this scheme and I bet it'd all settle into something financially viable. As long as the financial roll-down from MLB from transfer fees (i.e., contract purchases) ends up roughly equal, in aggregate, to the current sponsorship format via Player Development Contracts, you can let the market determine which players are worth what and which franchises can pick 'em, sign 'em and manage 'em. Bus travel and decent nutrition just aren't that expensive.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
Yeah, but A to AA?

And the Globe article says, "The '120 plan' also addresses geographical gerrymandering in places like Triple A Pacific Coast League, whose 16 teams spread out from Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee to Tacoma, Wash., and Sacramento, Calif." Seems to me as though MLB's plan will require raising and dropping the level of some team to get the best geographical fit. How will MiLB owners take to having their team dropped from AAA to AA or what will other AAA teams think about having to go on the road to an older AA stadium? I don't think this is going to be as cut-and-dried switch as MLB thinks.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
10,834
Santa Monica, CA
curly2 has BINGO! This is bullshit - they are going to raise salaries by putting a lot of players out of work. The Dream League is crap too - they all but admitted that the pay will be very low but offset by the "opportunity to impress MLB scouts". I think MiLB owners will get the short end of the stick as well. Franchise values will drop, if they are among those teams selected to jump a level or two, they get to pay for that privilege, etc.
If this gets late-round draftees to make more sober evaluations of their chance to make it to MLB, and factor that into college decisions, then I'm all for it.

The current system deludes hundreds of young guys each year into walking away from scholarships and degrees to become camp and low-minors fodder.
 

Cesar Crespo

79
SoSH Member
Dec 22, 2002
12,448
But M.L.B. is committed to a significant change because officials feel that about one-fourth of the minor league teams are not operating at a high-enough standard for modern athletes.
Sounds to me that a good portion of this is lawyer driven. They have to increase wages and its just not cost-effective to do it with as many minor league teams as currently exist.
I agree with both of these things. It sounds good to me on paper because it should improve the quality of play on the field considerably at the rookie levels. There are currently 79 teams in short season league. They would be eliminating about half of those. I don't really see why the Sox need a GCL team and a NY Penn team. Sure 1400 players would be out of jobs, but those are 1400 players who are terrible at their jobs.

If this gets late-round draftees to make more sober evaluations of their chance to make it to MLB, and factor that into college decisions, then I'm all for it.

The current system deludes hundreds of young guys each year into walking away from scholarships and degrees to become camp and low-minors fodder.
Basically this.
 

Fratboy

Mr. MENsa
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Nov 29, 2003
15,990
McCarver Park
Bill Madden has an update in the New York Daily News today:

Here is the plan which is slated to go into effect beginning in 2021:

1. Forty-two of the 160 minor league teams (26%) guaranteed under the present, expiring Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors will be eliminated, most of them from the four short season Rookie Leagues — the New York-Penn, Appalachian, Northwest and Pioneer.

2. The baseball draft will be moved from June to August, and reduced to 20 rounds, with the stipulation that the drafted players will sign contracts for the following season. In the interim, the players would then go into what has been described as the “Houston Plan” in which, instead of playing games, they will report to the major league team complexes and undergo analytics indoctrination — i.e. the analyzation of the hitters’ bat speeds, launch angles etc., and the pitchers’ spin rates, arm strengths and grips.

3. With the elimination of the four Rookie Leagues, there will be a limit of 150 players each organization can have in its minor league system among teams at Triple-A, Double-A, High A, Low A and their minor league “complex” teams. (Presently, there is no limit. The Yankees, with nine minor league teams, have well over 200.) It was the contention of the Astros and most of the smaller market clubs, that there is too much money being wasted on players who will never come close to reaching the majors. They may have a point, but between the reduction of the draft and the limit on the number of players in an organization, who knows how many Mike Piazzas, Luke Voits or John Gants, will ever be signed.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,408
More evolution toward the rich get richer as a result of automation and technology. And, no one has an answer.
 

simplicio

lurker
Apr 11, 2012
1,384
Would that mean the elimination of the gcl/dsl? Where do the 16 year old international signings go?
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 19, 2009
6,424
Would that mean the elimination of the gcl/dsl? Where do the 16 year old international signings go?
I don't know the ins and outs of the CBA as it pertains to this, but could this be a way to bring players who are not US citizens to the US on a student visa where the team pays for housing and funds the education so long as the player remains dedicated to baseball through the age of legal adulthood (as determined by US laws) and then provide a scholarship to get them to a school with a good baseball program until they are ready to join the ranks of pro baseball, then bring them into the lowest level of the minors?

Or would it have to be done kind of how like the NHL does ELCs?
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
51,921
Wow, that is a truly awful idea, can you imagine if they made tennis players do that too? Under this system when would Juan Soto get to WAS? 2023? Yikes.
 

Ale Xander

Lacks black ink
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
32,135
I don't know the ins and outs of the CBA as it pertains to this, but could this be a way to bring players who are not US citizens to the US on a student visa where the team pays for housing and funds the education so long as the player remains dedicated to baseball through the age of legal adulthood (as determined by US laws) and then provide a scholarship to get them to a school with a good baseball program until they are ready to join the ranks of pro baseball, then bring them into the lowest level of the minors?

Or would it have to be done kind of how like the NHL does ELCs?
I dont think that's a good idea. College isn't for everyone. People should be able to provide for themselves and their families as soon as they're ready. Only place it makes sense to require some sort of college or pre-professional leagues is football where its so violent and 18 year old bodies (and younger) and ready. Baseball like hockey and basketball and soccer should allow for 18 year olds to play in the top league if they're good enough.
 
Last edited:

Winger 03

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 15, 2003
1,352
Frederick, MD
If this gets late-round draftees to make more sober evaluations of their chance to make it to MLB, and factor that into college decisions, then I'm all for it.

The current system deludes hundreds of young guys each year into walking away from scholarships and degrees to become camp and low-minors fodder.

I read someplace (and I cant remember where) that the minors were full of "prospects and suspects". I doubt that many of the "suspects" skipped college scholarships to ride the buses in Princeton, WV. The Carolina League (High A) guys I knew were pretty certain where they fell in the pecking order and had no delusions that they were a step away from the Major Leagues.
 
Aug 11, 2019
387
I read someplace (and I cant remember where) that the minors were full of "prospects and suspects". I doubt that many of the "suspects" skipped college scholarships to ride the buses in Princeton, WV. The Carolina League (High A) guys I knew were pretty certain where they fell in the pecking order and had no delusions that they were a step away from the Major Leagues.
Look at the 2019 draft. 10th round (picks 288-317) had players signing for as much as $172,500 with 16 of the 29 who signed getting six figures. Five of them were 4th-year juniors in college but the rest were either JC or HS. So, you have young men who have played ball ever since they were youngsters, getting out of school, and getting a signing bonus that is larger than most can get if they hit the job market. Play ball for the summer and who knows, you might get lucky and move on up the ladder. You have teenagers graduating high school with no college in their future. What do they do? Get a $6/hour job or sign a baseball contract and get a bonus? So you are a "suspect."
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,408
I saw Bernie Sanders tweeted on this plan with the expected position, including a threat to introduce legislation revoking MLB’s anti-trust exemption and revisiting the minimum wage and overtime exemptions. I also think that we are long overdue to have a tax bill that prevents issuance of tax free bonds for financing anything related to sports’ stadiums (I vaguely recall something like that passing somewhere at some point).

Sanders is a good spokesman for this issue given how many towns in VT will be impacted. The Hudson and Mohawk Valleys in Upstate NY also look to be screwed over by this plan. As well as Iowa, which will be interesting to see if this becomes a bigger issue in the Iowa caucuses.

It’s always been a farce for baseball to claim some special legal status as America’s Game, not sure what those justices were thinking or if they were bribed. But it should go without saying that if baseball wants to run itself solely like a profit maximizing business, then they should be subject to the exact same rules as Target, Wendy’s, and other franchise business models.
 

NomarsFool

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 21, 2001
4,243
I assume that all these minor league teams make money. So, it's hard for me to understand how eliminating profitable businesses is in anyone's best interest.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
7,655
I assume that all these minor league teams make money. So, it's hard for me to understand how eliminating profitable businesses is in anyone's best interest.
If the major league teams are increasing their level of investment in their minor league teams (which is supposed to be part of this plan) by building better facilities and paying higher wages to the players, they probably want to reduce the number of teams they're investing in. Minor league baseball has been decreasing in size since the 1950's. There were 438 teams in 59 leagues in 1949. Now we have about 160 teams in 14 leagues, plus non-affiliated teams and leagues. Demand for local baseball has decreased as pro baseball has been broadcast. Minor league teams are now a development tool for major league ones, with local entertainment a by product. And they want to do development better now, and are looking at an antiquated system as a place to improve. For years we've talked about how poorly they treat the players, and how better training and workout facilities, along with better pay, food, and lodging would pay off if you produce just one or two more major leaguers. Now the teams are talking about doing those things, and we're complaining we might lose a short season team almost none of us have ever bothered to go see play?
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
If the major league teams are increasing their level of investment in their minor league teams (which is supposed to be part of this plan) by building better facilities and paying higher wages to the players, they probably want to reduce the number of teams they're investing in. Minor league baseball has been decreasing in size since the 1950's. There were 438 teams in 59 leagues in 1949. Now we have about 160 teams in 14 leagues, plus non-affiliated teams and leagues. Demand for local baseball has decreased as pro baseball has been broadcast. Minor league teams are now a development tool for major league ones, with local entertainment a by product. And they want to do development better now, and are looking at an antiquated system as a place to improve. For years we've talked about how poorly they treat the players, and how better training and workout facilities, along with better pay, food, and lodging would pay off if you produce just one or two more major leaguers. Now the teams are talking about doing those things, and we're complaining we might lose a short season team almost none of us have ever bothered to go see play?
Or, you know, MLB could just improve the facilities and pay of minor league teams using the enormous, taxpayer supported profits they make every year.

Just because you don’t watch short season baseball doesn’t mean nobody else does. The world does not revolve around you.
 

Lose Remerswaal

Missing an “R”
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
If the major league teams are increasing their level of investment in their minor league teams (which is supposed to be part of this plan) by building better facilities and paying higher wages to the players, they probably want to reduce the number of teams they're investing in. Minor league baseball has been decreasing in size since the 1950's. There were 438 teams in 59 leagues in 1949. Now we have about 160 teams in 14 leagues, plus non-affiliated teams and leagues. Demand for local baseball has decreased as pro baseball has been broadcast. Minor league teams are now a development tool for major league ones, with local entertainment a by product. And they want to do development better now, and are looking at an antiquated system as a place to improve. For years we've talked about how poorly they treat the players, and how better training and workout facilities, along with better pay, food, and lodging would pay off if you produce just one or two more major leaguers. Now the teams are talking about doing those things, and we're complaining we might lose a short season team almost none of us have ever bothered to go see play?
Do you have numbers from between the peak in 1949 and now?

1999 or 2009 or even 1989 would be much more meaningful than 1949 figures.
 

NomarsFool

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 21, 2001
4,243
Now the teams are talking about doing those things, and we're complaining we might lose a short season team almost none of us have ever bothered to go see play?
I go to see the Lowell Spinners almost every summer. It's a nice venue, and a good opportunity to take kids to see a baseball game (better than Fenway, in my opinion).

I think the affiliation is pretty important. I've never gone to see the Brockton Rox, if they even still exist.