MLB threatens to cut ties with minor league baseball
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The relationship is strained and tensions are rising between Major League Baseball and its minor league affiliates. Negotiations between the two sides have failed to find middle ground, and both sides have publicly decried the other, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Commissioner Rob Manfred is now threatening to walk away completely if the minor league owners aren’t willing to make concessions.

For their part, minor league owners entered negotiations so appalled at MLB’s proposal to cut 42 teams that they have yet to soften their stance. Minor league owners stoked the flames of controversy by going public with their concerns — a tactic that infuriated MLB. But public opinion is very much a part of this debate, as among other things, MiLB blames MLB for misrepresenting its positions to the public.

With thousands of jobs hanging in the balance, Congress has begun to pay attention as well. Senator Bernie Sanders will meet with minor league owners in the near future, and if diplomatic efforts aren’t improved, expect further government interest.

On the other side, torching the entire minor league system hardly seems like moving in the right direction, though MLB maintains its stance that it will “work diligently to preserve organized baseball in a compelling, fan-friendly format in every American city that currently has an affiliate,” per Shaikin. Along with the proposed cuts, MLB is tasking minor league owners with improving facilities and bearing more of the burden of minor league player salaries — a can of worms in and of itself.

The ultimatum issued by Manfred basically charged minor league owners to come to the negotiating table or plan on staying home. In a rebuttal to a four-page statement released by MiLB, MLB had no problem escalating the conflict, threatening with a reminder that once the 2020 pact runs out, “MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement,” per Shaikin. 

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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