As we know, changes have long been on the horizon for MLB and MiLB’s working partnership. The agreement between the two entities recently expired, and MLB now plans to bring the minor league system under their governance. MLB took a big step towards accomplishing their goals today.
MLB released a statement today announcing their plans to transplant the minor league offices to MLB’s headquarters in New York City, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). Shaikin also notes that MLB is now referring to minor league clubs as “licensed affiliates.” J.J. Cooper of Baseball America provides MLB’s full statement here.
By joining the offices to MLB headquarters, the minors are now a branch of MLB, notes Maury Brown of Forbes (via Twitter). Part of this process is the hiring of Peter Freund and Trinity Sports Consultants to help MLB and their new “licensed affiliates” transition. Freund owns minor league clubs at three levels, and he is a partner with the Yankees. His broader responsibilities will be in spearheading MLB’s efforts to build a cohesive minor league system and “implementing a modern approach to player development,” per MLB’s statement.
MLB has taken a lot of heat for their movement in this direction, specifically for insufficient minor league players salaries and the cutting of some 40 teams from the minor league system. Minor league ballplayers recently got a big win in the courts when the Supreme Court denied MLB’s appeal, thereby granting players class action status in their lawsuit against Major League Baseball. Basically any minor league player since 2009 can now join the suit in suing MLB for violation of minimum wage laws. This is one of the many issues that MLB hopes to address over the coming months.
To their credit, MLB has committed to maintaining a baseball presence in every market where minor-league baseball currently has a team. What exactly that amounts to is difficult to parse on a broad scale, but in many cases it will mean instructional leagues or camps, wooden-bat leagues – potentially for amateur participants – and youth programs. The goal, MLB insists, is not to eliminate those 40 cities who are losing their minor league teams from the baseball community – but to revamp and streamline the broader system to build a more comprehensive, efficient, and lucrative development pipeline.