Minor League Baseball (MiLB) released a response to key items being discussed in the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) negotiations. MLB is seeking to change the structure of minor league baseball. MiLB disputed several arguments that Major League baseball has recently made regarding the state of minor league baseball. MiLB’s response says that most of the issues that MLB has stated as not complying with the current PBA do in fact comply but are points to be addressed in the next PBA negotiations.
MiLB said that there are very few if any, facilities that are deemed to be non-compliant under the standards in the current PBA. MiLB also said that it has never told MLB that it is unwilling to negotiate reasonable facility standards.
MiLB also stated that MLB teams have the right to review all MiLB schedules, veto non-compliant schedules and suggest changes to a league’s schedule. In fact, MiLB said that MLB is lying when it says that there has been any reluctance to discuss player health and welfare.
MiLB said that MLB teams review and approve travel itineraries for all affiliates and that the current PBA has guidelines regarding travel. MiLB went so far as to say that any inconveniences endured by players have been experienced with the consent and approval of MLB.
Hotel accommodations are the responsibility of the MiLB team but are reviewed and approved by the MLB in each city. MLB identified 37 of 160 hotels as unacceptable often because of distance from restaurants according to an MiLB survey.
MiLB agrees that clubhouses need to be addressed in the next PBA. MiLB said that this need is not because of any problems with the current clubhouses but because space is an issue due to the increased number of players and staff being assigned by MLB teams.
MiLB said that it is all for increased salaries for minor league players but that they are employees of the major league teams and paid by those teams. MiLB has nothing to do with player salaries. In defense of MLB, they haven’t put this on MiLB. MLB seems to want to reduce criticism from the public and potentially the government because of low salaries and reducing the number of teams and players would allow for increased salaries while not significantly changing the overall cost to MLB teams.
MiLB completely disagrees with MLB’s stance that they subsidize MiLB teams. MiLB said that they pay a lot that is tied to goods and services for the players, coaches, and staff who are employees of MLB. MiLB also pays a “ticket tax” to MLB of over $20 million per year and says that this amount is equivalent to nearly 50% of player salaries below Double-A.
MiLB said that the idea that 42 teams that would no longer be affiliated with MLB teams under the MLB proposal and would be in a Dream League that could produce talent that eventually could make it into the minor leagues is not practical. They argue that cities selected would be too far apart to compete in leagues and that the teams would not be able to financially support those teams since they would have to finance everything that current MiLB teams finance plus everything currently paid by the MLB parent organization. MiLB pointed to the failure rate of independent baseball teams to show that this does not work.
This is already an ugly negotiation and it could get worse before things are settled. The 2020 season is the last under the current agreement so expect to hear about this all year.
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