After 18 months of bargaining for a new Professional Baseball Agreement, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball never got to yes.
Now that ties have been dissolved and MLB can act almost unilaterally to implement whatever new minor league system it wants, the new operators of minor league baseball signaled to the public and likely many minor league owners on Thursday that it would like to keep the lines of communication open.
“Although the PBA has expired, we intend to work with Minor League owners to grow the game by building a new model that will better serve fans, players and communities throughout the United States and Canada,” said MLB in a statement.
MLB is hoping to gain significant buy-in from minor-league owners over a new model it proposed at the end of August. MiLB owners have sought to clarify and improve details from that proposal MLB made, but clearly some owners still see a threat to the very existence of their franchises or a threat to their valuations and thus their investments.
The phrasing of the statement leaves out exactly which owners MLB wishes to continue to work with. It also does not mention MiLB’s negotiating committee, which on Wednesday, hours before the PBA’s midnight expiration, issued its own statement in which it signaled that “Minor League Baseball will continue to work in good faith over the coming weeks to reach a well-designed and fair agreement.”
A source familiar with the talks said MLB was still negotiating with the committee as of Thursday.
MLB is seeking a brand-new, slimmed-down, geographically-logical, modernized-facility model in which each of the 30 big-league teams have only four affiliates.
At least 30 minor-league baseball teams face de-affiliation, but as to which ones they will be, that decision-making process, according to one baseball source, is still ongoing at the MLB ownership level, including the Red Sox.
Michael Silverman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.