NEW YORK – The minor leagues are prepared to agree to Major League Baseball’s proposal to cut guaranteed affiliations from 160 to 120 next year, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, a plan that would impact hundreds of prospects and cut player development expenses.
The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because no announcements were authorized. The development was first reported by Baseball America.
An electronic negotiating session is scheduled for Wednesday.
In informal talks, parties have discussed the possibility of a radical overhaul in which MLB would take over all of many of the duties of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, another person familiar with the negotiations said.
Instead of franchise affiliations, there would be licensing agreements similar to those of hotel chains, that person said. MLB would then sell sponsorship, licensing and media rights, a switch that may lead to decreased overhead and increased revenue.
“There have been no agreements on contraction or any other issues," the National Association said in a statement Tuesday, adding it “looks forward to continuing the good-faith negotiations with MLB tomorrow.”
In talks to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after the 2020 season, MLB last year proposed cutting 42 affiliates, including Double-A teams in Binghamton, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania, along with Chattanooga and Jackson, Tennessee. The plan would eliminate affiliations for the 28 teams from four Class A Short Season and Rookie Advanced leagues that do not play at spring training complexes.
MLB said in a statement it looks forward to “continuing our discussion about how we can jointly modernize player development and continue to have baseball in every community where it is currently being played.”