A day after Major League Baseball threatened to walk away from the current minor-league format and forge a new system with independent leagues and teams, Minor League Baseball on Saturday struck a slightly more conciliatory tone.
“MiLB agrees with MLB that contentious public statements are not conducive to the ability to conduct serious and good faith negotiations,” read the beginning of MiLB’s statement, a direct response to MLB’s late-night salvo Friday, which decried MiLB’s preference “to engage in a continued public debate with the obvious goal of preserving a heavily subsidized system that is very beneficial to them.”
MiLB’s statement quickly moved past the point of mutual agreement to take issue with, once again, MLB’s simplistic framing of their differences as stemming from MiLB’s refusal to negotiate on substantive issues. It’s not so simple, MiLB said.
“However, as we are dealing with a matter of compelling public interest, we believe all should agree as well that accuracy in the public commentary is of the utmost importance and that the dissemination of non-conforming ‘information’ serves no proper purpose.”
It is a reflection of the sting MiLB felt at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Both MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and deputy commissioner Dan Halem lobbed criticism it felt would reflect poorly on the minor-league owners’ loyalty to their communities.
“We sincerely hope that we can move forward with MLB in the spirit of the excellent partnership we mutually have enjoyed for so many years, and reach agreement on a new Professional Baseball Agreement that is in the best interests of the game of Baseball and its future in communities across America,” the statement from MiLB said.
The idea of a public cease-fire doesn’t change the rockiness of negotiations over a new PBA to replace the one expiring in September.
Before issuing the threat of walking away altogether, MLB proposed stripping 42 teams of their major-league affiliation and creating independent leagues in their wake.
Public opinion came out strong on the minor-league side, with Congress leaping to the defense of the communities affected by the hit list, which MLB has said is outdated.