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Red-Knight

Potential Minor League Shake-Up: The Upcoming MiLB and MLB PBA 2020

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So the MLB and MiLB Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) is set to expire after the 2020 season. This is the agreement that outlines the single affiliation model and states the 160 MiLB clubs from AAA to Advanced Rookie will have an MLB affiliate.

 

MiLB hopes to have a new agreement in place by the end of the winter meetings, as to not have it hanging over their head the entire season (link). As analytics continue to become more and more prevalent in all aspects of the games, MLB appears to be positioning for a more streamlined and efficient minor league system that allows them to better train, develop, and evaluate prospects. Commissioner Manfred has even publicly said that MLB would like to see fewer affiliates and better facilities (link).

 

It seems from current stadium issues (see Beloit), that MiLB has already succumbed to MLB demands to increase stadium facility requirements. Apparently, last time this occurred was in 1992 and subsequently MiLB was met with multiple teams relocating and other restructuring. Regardless, if there are stricter facility rules, we could see some current MiLB stadiums deemed ineligible and could thus force teams to seek new stadiums or relocate.

 

Has anyone heard any rumors as to developments of the PBA for 2020? What stadiums do you think would be most at risk? And if MLB gets their way, even though MiLB is opposed to reducing the 160 required affiliation number, what do you think are some likely scenarios that MLB and MiLB agree to restructuring? How would this affect the current league set up in the minors?

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4 hours ago, Red-Knight said:

So the MLB and MiLB Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) is set to expire after the 2020 season. This is the agreement that outlines the single affiliation model and states the 160 MiLB clubs from AAA to Advanced Rookie will have an MLB affiliate... Has anyone heard any rumors as to developments of the PBA for 2020? What stadiums do you think would be most at risk? And if MLB gets their way, even though MiLB is opposed to reducing the 160 required affiliation number, what do you think are some likely scenarios that MLB and MiLB agree to restructuring? How would this affect the current league set up in the minors?


It strikes me that when the the mark of 160 Minor League Baseball teams - each with a Major League Baseball parent club - was settled upon, the number wasn't just plucked out of thin air. Someone, thinking that 32 franchises would one day be the optimal maximum size for MLB, came to the realization that 160 MiLB affiliates would divide neatly into 5 farm clubs per MLB team, each operating at a distinct level of minor league ball.

So, what are those levels? The Triple A, Double A, Single A Advanced, and Single A levels aren't going anyplace. The leagues comprising them aren't likely to change much, either. Some markets might swap leagues within a level in order to address issues pertaining to geographic proximity, travel, etc. Others might move up or down a level. That said, if and when Major League Baseball expands to 32 teams, we're likely looking at 32 Triple-A teams split between the International and Pacific Coast Leagues; 32 Double-A teams split between the Eastern, Southern, and Texas Leagues; 32 Class A Advanced teams split between the California, Carolina, and Florida State Leagues; and 32 Class A teams split between the Midwest League and the South Atlantic League.

Beyond those levels, I can foresee a scenario where an amalgamation/consolidation of the Class A Short Season and Rookie Advanced classifications - and, potentially, the leagues that comprise them - takes place. All four leagues currently play host to first and second-year players, all play a June-to-early September schedule, and all play between 68 and 76 games over the course of their regular seasons. That being the case, I could see the powers-that-be paring down the 40 current teams/markets across two classifications into a single classification comprised of 32 teams. Might all four leagues survive with eight member-franchises each? Perhaps, though my gut tells me that under an amalgamation/consolidation, at least one league might go the way of the dodo.

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. 

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I feel like the addition of a third league in both AAA and Low A might help in scheduling.  Im curious if that could be a condition, especially for travel situations.

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@Brian in Boston Good point! With 160 dividing evenly with 32, it seems MiLB will leverage MLB's desire to expand to keep the same number of teams just with some restructuring (ie promoting teams and maybe some jumping leagues?) IT would be messy and laborious, but I could see that ultimately being how it works out... All depends if MLB is serious about expansion

 

@AstroBull21 Yeah, never understood how PCL teams stay afloat with travel costs. Such a large footprint. 3 leagues could work evenly now, but if MLB expands, it could pose some problems. Then again the leagues are already uneven so not sure that really matters.

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14 hours ago, Red-Knight said:

@Brian in Boston Good point! With 160 dividing evenly with 32, it seems MiLB will leverage MLB's desire to expand to keep the same number of teams just with some restructuring (ie promoting teams and maybe some jumping leagues?) IT would be messy and laborious, but I could see that ultimately being how it works out... All depends if MLB is serious about expansion

 

@AstroBull21 Yeah, never understood how PCL teams stay afloat with travel costs. Such a large footprint. 3 leagues could work evenly now, but if MLB expands, it could pose some problems. Then again the leagues are already uneven so not sure that really matters.

only thing that matters is each league having an even number of teams. MLB worked this year for years, before the(in my opinion) ill fated idea to require year long interleague play.

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