Yesterday saw the announcement that we all knew was coming for the last two months – the 2020 Minor League Baseball season was cancelled. The writing for that has been on the wall since some point in April. Between nearly every state noting that there was no chance that they were going to allow fans in the stands, to a later report that Major League Baseball teams were planning on moving forward without a minor league season – it was everything but official.

But following the announcement of the cancellation of the season, Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner had a conference call with some media members and as reported by Baseball America, “It’s north of half (of MiLB teams) who could either have to sell (or go insolvent without government or other help),” O’Conner said. “This is the perfect storm. There are many teams that are not liquid, not solvent.”

There’s a hope that two bills in Congress right now will be lifelines for some of these teams. But if not, things could get very ugly for plenty of organizations. “It’s extremely difficult for us to project, because there is no end in sight in the immediate future,” O’Conner said. “Our clubs are committed. They are capitalized as best can be expected. We are in dire straits, and I still have grave concerns. What happens every day doesn’t alleviate any of my concerns.”

On top of so many organizations facing a financial crisis in which they may not be able to come out of, Major League Baseball is still planning on eliminating 40+ affiliated baseball teams from the minors. It’s very likely that we have seen the final Billings Mustangs game played while being affiliated with Major League Baseball. The same goes for the Greeneville Reds. And it may hold true for the Daytona Tortugas and Chattanooga Lookouts, who were on the original contraction list – but with teams moving onto, and off of the list – they have a better chance to stick around for multiple reasons.

With the financial difficulties that teams are facing, something like “we can survive into 2021” may be a difference maker between being placed onto the “safe” list when it comes to contraction. There are so many more moving parts today than there were in the fall of 2019 when the story first broke.

We may have to wait quite a while to see how it all plays out, though. MLB, while already having come to an agreement to get the 2020 season going, is still having ongoing negotiations about certain things with the Major League Baseball Players Association. Until that is completed, they aren’t likely to engage in conversations with MiLB about their agreement that comes to an end later this fall.

Leonardo Seminati is stuck in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Reds prospect Leonardo Seminati, like many minor league players, is unable to play baseball right now. Unlike many of them, though, he can’t go home. Seminati hails from Italy and the country is shut down to travelers. He wound up coming to Cincinnati where his fiance lives. Brandon Saho and WLWT 5 in Cincinnati had a short story last night on the situation.

 

8 Responses

  1. Billy

    Funny how much of an effect timing can have. MLB looked like jerks for threatening to contract teams. Had they not said anything, they likely would have gotten their wish, and could have invested a modest amount of money in MiLB and looked like saviors for doing so. Of course, no one knew that this was all just around the corner. Hindsight is 20/20 and all.

  2. MK

    Since the Reds own Greenville, which is a very nice Stadium, I wonder if an arrangement could be move the Daytona affiliation to there and then be added to the Carolina League. Of course there would need to be a second team added to the league as well.

    • Tom Mills

      The Reds own Greeneville, but they play in a College stadium. A full season season League would conflict with the college team. They might be able to work out the schedules…

  3. Dale

    taxpayer money should not be used to finance and shore up a private business. If that is the case attendance should be free.
    Better to let the market sort this thing out and let the investors/owners figure out their business model.
    I think creating an independent league for all of MiLB is going to be the only way forward. No more minors. Let every player play as a free agent available to the majors and this new independent league figure out how to be fiscally responsible.

    • MK

      Dale,
      There are precedents for both of your concepts.

      The argument used by Senator Sherrod Brown to get changes in Blackout TV restrictions for the NFL games said taxpayers subsidized the team stadiums so locals should not be blacked out if games were not sold out. He got it done.

      Your final paragraph is similar to a proposal Charlie Finley came up with in mid seventies, that all players should be free agents every year.

  4. enfueago

    I think MLB continues to underestimate how important it is to have minor league teams. These teams are the only option available for a lot of people to see and become attached to live baseball. The smaller parks are also a much more intimate experience and that makes for a lot more a connection. Its also the only way to involve people who may not live near your major league team but are or can be fans of that team if they get to know the players before they go up. I stay interested in players I saw in the minors even when they bounce around in the majors. I don’t think I would be the fan I am today if I hadn’t been able to go to A games when I was younger.

  5. MK

    Think the Reds would pony up the one million dollars it would take to move Low A Dayton to AA? I think they said the fee to move up a level was half a million, so two levels should be a million. Makes no sense for Dragons team owners to do it but it would be positive for Reds to have their AA team that close. They would have to be added to Eastern League so a total of two teams would need to be added.

    • Doug Gray

      I’d imagine that’s a price too steep for the Reds to pay. Perhaps if that bought them some ownership in the team, maybe. But just to have a slightly closer Double-A team? Can’t see it.