If you’ve been following along for the last week with this series you’ll notice that this article’s title is a little bit different. That’s because this part isn’t about the possible ramifications. This is about what I’ve been hearing from some people in and around baseball, as well as my own thoughts on the situation.

I’ve talked with plenty of people in the baseball industry over the last week about this whole situation where Major League Baseball proposed eliminating 42 teams from the minors and essentially just having a complex level rookie team, then the four full-season teams in every organization. The short-season rookie level teams, for the most part, would cease to exist as affiliated teams. You can read about that, and many of the other ideas that were proposed by Major League Baseball at Baseball America.

For the most part the belief is that this proposal is just an “opening offer” and used as a scare tactic of sorts to try to get what the teams and Major League Baseball is really after: More Money. Right now the teams in the minors have to pay a set amount (per level) of ticket sales to the Major Leagues. The higher the level the higher the percentage of a ticket sale goes to the Major League teams. Perhaps this is where the Major League teams want to see their share increase. Or perhaps there’s another aspect – but either way, many of the people I spoke with felt that the players are going to start being paid better and Major League Baseball wants the minor league team owners to cover some of the raises that are going to be coming. Ticket sale increase, or just outright agreeing to cover a certain percentage of the player pay – the big league clubs want help paying for it.

When it comes to the facility upgrades that were talked about – this wasn’t something that most felt was much of an issue. Many did have an example or two of places that probably needed a real upgrade. But by-and-large they agreed that it was something that the minor league owners would be willing to take care of if it meant the difference between not having a team that’s affiliated or not having a team that’s affiliated.

But there were a few people that I spoke with who were a little more concerned. JJ Cooper noted that there was at least some concern that the number of teams could be pushed even further down to 90 teams in 2026.

While most felt it was merely a negotiating tactic, a few people I was able to talk to were more concerned that Major League Baseball is rather serious about cutting teams out. Clearly at least one source that Cooper spoke to felt that way, too.

When I brought this up with one source they brought up several issues that would make it quite unlikely. First is the fact that the legal battles would go on forever. Team owners aren’t going to have the rug pulled out from under them without a fight. Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner said as much, publicly, in the Baseball America article. But there’s also some of the cities/towns that have helped fund stadiums for these teams that may lose teams – they also aren’t likely to just go quietly into the night and throw their hands up in the air.

Before I started reaching out to people in the minor league business on the non-Major League team payroll, I felt 99% confident that this was all a big, public threat of sorts. Something to get people talking. Something to put pressure on the team owners to accept they were going to have to kick more money in to the Major League teams to cover an increase in salary.

Today? Well, I still feel fairly confident that’s the case. But I do feel there’s more of a chance this could be a bit more than a threat to try and get more money out of minor league teams. I’d still say I’d put it at like a 90% confidence level we won’t see teams get cut out. Still, the concern a few that I spoke with had who believed it to be an actual possibility, along with the tweet by JJ Cooper about a concern from someone that another drop could be in store for 2026 left me with at least a little concern.

If you wanted to read the rest of this series from the last week, the links are below.

5 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    Good set of articles Doug,
    It seems all the owners agree with John D Rockefeller, when asked how much money is enough, he said “Just 1 dollar more”
    My guess, is the owner are trying to figure out, how to get more money from the system, now that TV revenue seems to have peaked.
    (Look at the projections of the Rockies new contract, appears to be less then the Reds, based on the scuttlebutt)

    • Oldtimer

      I would say EXCELLENT. Good summary of issues, great analysis, reasonable conclusions.

  2. AirborneJayJay

    I think there will be a conference or league re-alignment first to help cut down some travel expenses. A third AAA league will be added. The International League is a far going league with 16 teams. Three 10 team leagues will be the format at each level. It appears as though the low A level teams will become
    the de facto rookie level.
    It is unfortunate that they aren’t growing the minor league pie. It stays the same size. To increase portions they have to eliminate some.

  3. AirborneJayJay

    Maybe MLB can negotiate a 1% tax on player contracts over $10MM. Owners have to match that. A $12MM salary will have a very affordable $120,000 tax on it that is also matched by that players team.
    This could be the ultimate in “giving back” that so many athletes claim to want to do. The $10MM threshold is something that even could be lowered to maybe $5MM if they want.

  4. Oldtimer

    Talked to a fellow at my granddaughters’ basketball games yesterday. He was wearing BYU Baseball shirt; turns out his son was drafted by Washington Nats as SS from BYU and is playing AA level for the Nats’ MiLB team. I asked his salary; the guy said his son makes $1250 per month. I didn’t quibble. He oughta know.