MLB is opening up the streaming market, per Thomas Barrabi of Fox Business. Each team will now be allowed to sell its streaming rights to local markets prior to the 2020 season. The change marks another point in the slow but inevitable shift from broadcast to digital. Teams are still beholden to contractual agreements with regional sports networks, but the change will eventually empower teams with a potentially impactful degree of agency. The return of digital rights to the franchises themselves also ought to help the sport expand its digital footprint and allow for streaming on further platforms such as Amazon and YouTube, who enjoyed a successful partnership with MLB last season.
- It may be the trade action that butters our bread here at MLB Trade Rumors, but for Major League Baseball itself, the Winter Meetings are an important venue for discussion of an array of league issues. Yesterday, for instance, MLB met with minor league reps for the first of many sessions negotiating the proposed new structure for the minor league system, per David Waldstein of the NY Times. The proposal on the table calls for large-scale retraction, which unsurprisingly does not sit well with minor league owners. There’s much progress to be made, and this will hardly be the last time these two sides meet to discuss this issue. MLB cannot force the retraction, but the current contract runs out in September, by which time the two sides hope to have a new agreement in place – though that’s hardly a sure thing.
- Changes are coming to the KBO, per Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net (via Twitter). The Korean Baseball Organization Players’ Association voted to shorten the amount of service time needed to reach free agency from nine years to eight years for players entering out of high school and from eight years to seven years for those entering from college, per Yonhap News Agency. Another change apropos to those free agents still looking for clubs, the KBO will now allow three foreign players to appear in the same game. Presently, teams can roster three foreign players, but only two were allowed to appear in the same game. The change could embolden teams to be more aggressive in their pursuit of foreign players, especially given the success of a player like Josh Lindblom, who plans to return stateside after an MVP-winning season in the KBO. Other changes include the raising of the minimum salary and the implementation of an injured list. The KBOPA differs from the MLBPA in that it is not a union, though clearly, the leagues struggle with many of the same sticking points in negotiations with players.