This is the start of negotiations of the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, but MLB has proposed going to a 120 team minor league system from the current 160 teams.
Some key points worth noting:
The PBA currently expires after the 2020 season and this is the beginning of negotiations, so nothing is definite. I would be surprised if this ended up being the end result, but I could see some compromise where they end up with 150 teams, as an example. The 1990 PBA resulted in stricter standards for minor league stadiums, which resulted in some franchises relocating. MLB is saying now that they are looking to increase facility standards and player salaries, and this would eliminate many players in each organization.
The remaining leagues would be dramatically restructured with teams changing classification levels and leagues changing the number of teams. This is very interesting because fans are used to seeing play at a certain level in their hometown stadiums and now that team could be playing at a different level with a number of new league members.
The Player Development Contract process will be dramatically reworked to eliminate the two year deals and have longer franchise agreements between the MLB and MiLB teams.
The proposal actually eliminates 42 teams (don’t have any specifics), but they want to add the St. Paul Saints and Sugar Land Skeeters, which are currently in independent leagues, to MiLB. Some of the short-season teams would become full-season and some full-season teams would be eliminated.
The teams that are eliminated could become part of the Dream League, which would contain non-drafted players and essentially act as an independent league that operates under MLB and MiLB. But some of the teams may not be able to afford to play in this league.
This would be a radical shift in the structure of minor league baseball and it will be interesting to see how the fans react. Some municipalities are spending money on their ballparks only to have them lose their affiliation with Major League Baseball.
So this will surely be interesting to see how it plays out.