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MLB Commissioner Threatens to Leave Minor Leagues Behind

Brock Fritz Headshot

Major League Baseball officials are pushing forward with the plan to contract the Minor League Baseball system.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday that the league would be open to creating a completely new system when the Professional Baseball Agreement expires on Sept. 30, 2020.

"If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very significant issues with the current system at the bargaining table," Saturday’s MLB statement said. "Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

The current Professional Baseball Agreement includes 160 affiliated minor league teams. The initial MLB proposal to cut 42 minor league teams has received a significant amount of pushback, including more than 100 members of the United States Congress signing a November letter expressing their opposition to the proposal.

"The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs,” Congress’ letter said.

Manfred has listed four main reasons to cut 42 teams across 22 states, including inadequate facilities, untenable travel created by 77 franchises moving since 1990, poor pay for minor leaguers, and signing players who don’t have a realistic chance of making the big leagues.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher spoke out against the proposal Saturday, tweeting “At least Rob Manfred is trying to ruin baseball at all levels and isn’t discriminating,” as well as asking fans how they think baseball can become more popular.

Senator Bernie Sanders also spoke out Saturday, sending a letter to Manfred that read, “I’m outraged to hear of your threat to eliminate the entire existing Minor League Baseball system. … When we last met, you gave me your word that you would be negotiating in good faith with Minor League Baseball to preserve professional baseball in the communities that currently have it. Threatening to walk away from the entire minor league system is the exact opposite of negotiating in good faith.”

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