Tonight is the deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster (and the 38-man AAA roster) ahead of next month’s Rule 5 draft. Baseball America, which has not joined in the contraction conversation yet (more in a minute), has the Nationals definitely protecting Sterling Sharp and possibly protecting Ben Braymer and (put down your beverage) Malvin Peña. They have also ranked the Nationals as the team with the least to worry about in terms of losing a player permanently.
Ballpark Digest has weighed in on the contraction plan. It’s a long read, but I will highlight what’s in Editor-in-chief Kevin Reichard’s wheelhouse:
One major complaint repeated time after time: MLB is ostensibly making these changes because of facility concerns, but at no point did the MLB negotiating team set down clear facility standards. It is true that MLB clubhouse needs have changed dramatically in the last decade, as teams add more coaches and nutritional experts to the mix. A well-appointed MiLB clubhouse will sport not just a locker area, but also dedicated coaches’ rooms, a lounge, a kitchen, a large workout area and a video/computer room. But adding these spaces to most ballparks is not considered a huge expense: we’re talking cinderblock construction with decent finishes. By not laying out a minimum player facility standard and allowing teams to meet it in order to maintain affiliation, MLB officials are open to the charge of not negotiating in good faith. The lack of standards and a plan to let MiLB owners and communities meet them undercuts the whole MLB facilities rationale.
One other tidbit that might perk up some ears here is that the Fresno Grizzlies would join the California League in place of Lancaster in this plan. Reichard also notes that the “hit list” is not final yet and “seems to have been made without the slightest inkling of how it would be received by fans and politicos.”
Speaking of Congress, which
grabbed its ankles and bent over amended the Fair Labor Standards Act at the behest of MLB two years ago, issued a veiled threat yesterday in form of a letter signed by more than 100 members to all 30 teams and the Commissioner’s Office.
If you’re interested in reading that letter, you can find it here. In that same article, it was revealed that MLB officials and “a group of Minor League Baseball team owners representing all levels” are reportedly meeting tomorrow in Dallas to discuss this further, according to Minor League Baseball Director of Communications Jeff Lantz.
The reading here is similar to that of Reichard’s: MLB has become utterly tone-deaf to the PR ramifications of a multi-billion dollar industry crying poor, especially an industry that has had billions, if not trillions, in subsidies over the last 97 years by virtue of its anti-trust exemptions and stadiums built with taxpayer dollars.