MLB Says MiLB Overhaul Needed To Improve Overall Conditions
MLB is proposing to "sever its parent-club ties" with 42 MiLB teams, which would "allow baseball to increase the salaries of players on affiliated teams -- an issue that has recently been contended in court," according to Dan Barry of the N.Y. TIMES. The 42 teams under the proposal would be "welcome to join a lower-quality Dream League populated largely by undrafted and released players, a plan one minor league official called a 'death sentence' for the clubs." Another minor league official "estimated that of the 42 teams targeted, fewer than 10 would be able to survive." MLB Senior VP/League Economics & Operations Morgan Sword said that several factors had "determined which teams would retain major league affiliation." One was a team's "proximity to its parent club and to potential opponents." Another was the "condition of the facilities." A third focused on "hotel availability and general security." Sword "rejected the suggestion that the proposal represented a contraction." He said that MLB would "subsidize the Dream League, though exactly how is open to discussion." Sword also "played down the importance of parent-club affiliation to a minor league team's success, citing MLB research that indicated fans care more about affordability and proximity to the ballpark." He said, "The fact that they have affiliation is not high on that list. Our objective is not to preserve minor league franchise value. Our objective is to preserve each minor league club's ability to operate" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/17).
LOOKING OUT FOR THE BOTTOM LINE: In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote in recent weeks, details of MLB's proposal have been "slowly leaking out," the spin from the league being it is "designed to (1) upgrade all the minor league facilities and (2) improve 'wellness' for the minor leaguers in terms of travel and living conditions." Madden: "In truth, as always, it's designed to save money, lots of money, and the proprietors of these minor league teams, many of whom have their life savings invested in them, be damned." Meanwhile, the "repercussions from this contraction plan are going to be enormous." MLB itself "conceivably will be hit with an avalanche of lawsuits from communities that have built new ballparks on taxpayers' money." It has been estimated that $300M in equity "will be lost by the minor league owners whose teams are being eliminated." Madden wrote he was told that when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred "presented this plan to the owners a few months ago, the vote was unanimous 30-0 to move forward" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/17).