The expiration of the Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB arrives in 18 days, at which point MLB is expected to slice a huge segment of affiliated minor league ball clubs from the development pipeline. MLB’s plan to take 120 teams under their governance in a new, streamlined minor league system was viewed as a worst-case scenario for a time, but as the realities of this pandemic-cancelled season have come to pass, minor league clubs are focused more on creating ways to recoup some of their lost revenue.
The biggest hurdle minor league owners are eagerly hoping to clear is the creation of a schedule for the 2021 season, writes Josh Norris of Baseball America. Minor league clubs have already lost a tremendous amount of earning potential through the loss of the 2020 season, which for many teams would have at least provided a last hurrah before elimination, writes Norris.
For most of these clubs, their biggest asset is the facility itself, but with each passing day, opportunities to secure rentals and alternative entertainment options potentially fall by the wayside. Until the schedule for 2021 is set, these minor league clubs don’t know the availability of their buildings, severely limiting any strategic advantage they might have gained through planning and forethought. Essentially, these minor league clubs are preparing to become franchisees of the MLB brand, but right now they don’t know what they’re allowed to put on the menu.
With Pat O’Connor, the President of Minor League Baseball, retiring at the end of the year, there’s little standing in the way of MLB’s restructure plan. But until a schedule for the 2021 season is down on paper, those businesses are stuck in limbo.