Major changes might be coming to Minor League Baseball

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UNITED STATES. — Every five years the MLB and National Association Professional Baseball Leagues (Minor League Baseball) have a Professional Baseball Agreement.

The two organizations have not had any huge negotiations since 1990.

But next year, that changes.

“Last time we negotiated a Professional Baseball Agreement was 1990. Ever since then it’s just been a lot of going ahead and extending the current agreement. Back in 1990 when they were trying to do the deal, most teams just had a pitching coach, hitting coach, manager and trainer,” said Sr. Director of Communications with MILB Jeff Lantz.

“So you really only needed space and locker room area for 4 people. Now every team has a manager, pitching coach, hitting coach, fielding coach, strength and conditioning coach, trainer, video coordinators, and clubhouse managers,” Lantz added.

The MLB has sent its initial proposal and wants to condense the MILB from 160 teams to 120 teams.

“The game has kind of grown in that way and a lot of our facilities aren’t built to house that many people. It’s just a matter of looking at each facility and looking at what needs to be done to get everybody in compliance and hopefully keep as many of our 160 teams as we can,” Lantz said.

This would make huge changes to Minor League divisions and leagues, and it could have an impact on central Illinois teams.

WMBD’s Matt Sheehan spoke with MILB and MLB officials, and when Sheehan asked if the MILB thought the Peoria Chiefs could be one of the teams put on the chopping block, Lantz says he doesn’t think we have anything to worry about.

This is because of our top-tier facilities and the location of our team. Right between St. Louis and Chicago.

“The current deal doesn’t expire until September 15, 2020. We’ve got a lot of time to figure out what we’re gonna do next. I’d just encourage everyone to continue on with business as usual. There will be baseball in Peoria next summer for sure,” Lantz said.

Another proposal Major League Baseball made was to create a “Dream League.”

This would allow prospects wanting to make the majors one day to play in the stadiums that used to belong to Minor League teams that were discontinued.

“If they were to cut 40 teams they’d start a Dream League. Where they’d play games in those ballparks where the teams that did not get a player development contract, they would become members of the Dream League that would kind of an independent type league. That’s just part of their first proposal, we’re hoping it won’t come to that,” Lantz said.

“They’d like to see some realignment potentially of some leagues. We’re not opposed to that, we’ve done it before. If it’ll save some affiliates, we’ll do it again. Major League Baseball would like to improve the travel for teams in the Minor Leagues. ” Lantz added.

Lantz says it’s still very early in contract negotiations, so both parties aren’t exactly sure what changes will be made to the Minor Leagues.

A big reason for this proposal is because of the clubhouses some teams play in.

“Their teams are investing a lot of money in these players. Through signing bonuses and cost of developing them into hopefully being major league players. They want to see those guys, training and performing in first-class facilities,” Lantz said.

And while some ballparks, similar to Dozer Park, are very nice, some are not.

“A lot of our ballparks and clubhouses are first-class, they’re very nice. They’re up to specification but we have a handful that could use some TLC and some renovations here and there,” Lantz added.

“A lot of this has to do with facility standards. We understand that, it’s nothing we weren’t expecting. As far as their proposal to drop 40 teams from 160-120, it’s a very early part of the negotiation. Early part of the process. We have a lot of time left to find a common ground that’s good for both parties. We plan to do that,” Lantz said.

Sheehan spoke with Vice President of Communications with Major League Baseball Michael Teevan, who says negotiations are very early.

“We have exchanged proposals with Minor League Baseball, but everything is preliminary at this point. The agreement expires at the end of 2020,” Teevan said.

This story will be updated.

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