MLB and MiLB Will Reportedly Agree on Fewer Minor League Teams

For months we have been hearing that Major League Baseball wants to cut the amount of minor league affiliates. They apparently will get their wish, despite initial push-back from Minor League Baseball. According to a report from J.J. Cooper on Baseball America, MiLB is willing to agree to a 120-team minor league system, with four full-season affiliates for each of the 30 Major League clubs.

MLB wanted to eliminate a total of 42 minor league teams that were picked due to substandard facilities, while also trying to help travel costs by realigning some teams based on geography. Some clubs will change levels of play according to the proposed plan.

What this means is that the Pirates will no longer have affiliates in the New York-Penn League or the Appalachian League, though those league may operate on some level, possibly as a league for undrafted players (tentatively titled a “Dream League), summer collegiate league or an independent league. Not all of the eliminated teams will come from the short-season leagues either. There are clubs from Double-A on down in that group of 42 teams, while Morgantown is one of the current short-season teams that would still have an affiliated team.

The complex leagues (GCL and DSL) would still have teams. They are all owned by their big league affiliate. One interesting note in the article says that there will be one stateside complex league team per MLB team. If that’s true, then teams would have a much smaller group of players who aren’t active in full-season ball.

Extended Spring Training usually involves about 80 players (some of them are there on rehab). That number would likely be cut down by about 30 players, leaving less room for DSL players to move up, or draft/non-drafted free agent signings. The draft has already been cut down for 2020 and 2021, so that will eliminate some of those extra players in the future.

It sounds like we should hear more on this news tomorrow.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth, MiLB issued this statement after this report came out:

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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