Minor League Baseball Contraction Is Inevitable
There is no chance that Minor League Baseball games will be played this spring and summer because of COVID 19. It is, however, almost certain that a good number of minor league baseball teams have played their last games as part of the Major League-Minor League Player Development Agreement. Major League Baseball wants to get rid of more than 40 teams on the lower end of the minor league spectrum, mainly the short season entry leagues, and probably will prevail in their quest to save research and development money. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is trying to keep as many minor league teams in his state as possible but he will probably fail. Grassley said MLB officials told him that three Iowa teams, the Pacific Coast League Triple A Iowa Cubs and two low level Single A franchises, the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Quad Cities River Bandits are safe from contraction. But two low minor league Single A Midwest League franchises, the Burlington Bees and the Clinton LumberKings are endangered species.
The 86-year-old Grassley has been in the Senate since 1981. It is highly unlikely that Major League Baseball officials are going to tell him something untrue. After all there is a matter of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption that gives the industry some monopoly-like controls. The Senate can go a long way in unraveling that protection. Grassley did make a pitch to keep all five Iowa teams alive. “I reiterated the important part Minor League teams play in their communities and the great economic impact they have in their regions,” Grassley said. “We talked about all of Iowa’s Minor League teams, particularly the Clinton LumberKings and the Burlington Bees, which are rumored to be under consideration for contraction.” It is estimated that Major League Baseball owners can save about $20 million annually by eliminating 42 minor league teams.