Report: MiLB will accept MLB contraction proposal

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Negotiations are ongoing, but Clinton LumberKings, Burlington Bees could be affected

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Minor League Baseball plans to agree to the proposal from Major League Baseball to reduce teams from 160 to 120, according to a Baseball America report.

The Clinton LumberKings and Burlington Bees are among the 42 teams on the latest list to be eliminated, as well as one other Midwest League team, the Beloit Snappers. Two independent teams would be added to the 118 survivors, according to the report.

When MLB and MiLB negotiators convene on a teleconference on Wednesday, multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations say MiLB will indicate that it agrees to 120 affiliated teams in a new PBA.

Such a concession by MiLB could be a clear step toward a deal. MiLB has now agreed to find ways to come to agreement on almost all of MLB’s public demands.

Class A Short Season and Rookie League baseball would be eliminated, but the contraction and ensuing realignment would reach all levels of minor league baseball.

The report said both sides are working on an agreement that would keep baseball with some type of tie to MLB in the majority of the 42 cities that lose it.

COVID-19 is likely the main culprit in MiLB’s change of heart, according to the report.

MiLB’s willingness to agree to 120 affiliated teams is a dramatic indication of just how much has changed in a few months. Before the novel coronavirus shut down all sports, MiLB was waging a public relations and political campaign to try to get MLB to agree to more than 120 teams.

Now, many MiLB teams are just trying to survive. Several MiLB teams have had to layoff or furlough significant numbers of staffers because the current season is suspended with no clear start date in sight.

In the future, each MLB team will have four minor-league affiliates and one Rookie-level team that plays at its spring training facility.

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