Hold on to your butts, there’s a lot to process here.
Let’s start with the easiest…
Per Baseball America, the Nats signed the following minor-leaguers:
- C Jakson Reetz
- 1B-OF Aldrem Corredor
- RHPs – Joan Baez, Paolo Espino, Francis Peguero, Ronald Peña, Mario Sanchez
- SS Manuel Gerardo
- UT Brandon Snyder
Likewise, the following former Washington players were granted/elected free agency:
- Cs – Welington Castillo, Taylor Gushue, Jake Lowery, Matt Reistetter, Adderling Ruiz
- IFs – Bengie Gonzalez, Jacob Wilson
- OFs – Rafael Bautista
- RHPs – James Bourque, Angel Guillen, Austen Williams
Now, a little more difficult…
NEW TRAVEL RULES PROPOSED FOR MiLB
While the responsibility to pay for upgrades to facilities may be ultimately borne by cities and counties, new travel/scheduling rules are going on the tab of minor-league owners*.
* No, I’m not naïve; of course all these new costs are going to be passed along via higher ticket prices, concessions, parking, fees, etc.
Among the highlights:
- A reduction of “commuter” trips from 100 miles to 50 miles
- A minimum of two buses for road trips; at least one sleeper bus for trips of 250 miles or more
- Trips of 350 miles or more must be via air (AAA) or on an off day (AA or below)
- Trips of 550 miles must always be by air
- AAA trips of 350-550 miles can be by bus with:
- Permission from MLB
- There are no direct flights from City A to City B
- Taken on off days
Obviously, these would be dramatic improvements for the players, and probably should have been in place but for (a) lack of a union for minor leaguers (b) lack of empathy by MLB prior to the current lawsuits. Don’t get all misty-eyed: remember MLB has always had the ability to pay and mandate for these things; they’re just trying to get someone else to do both because they have them over a barrel.
But as BA points out, these costs would be more than double than what minor-league owners had to pay previously, and in some places (e.g. Texas League) even more given how spread out the league is. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that this will require more off days (also part of the proposal, with a minimum of one per 15 days instead of one per 30).
The proposal also includes requiring permission for games before noon – which are often quite profitable for teams able to suck..er, sell out to schools and camps – and restrictions on games starting at 4 p.m. or earlier if the teams have to travel more than 150 miles by bus afterward.
Throw in MLB’s desire to reduce the number of games from 140 or more to perhaps as few as 120 at some levels, and you can envision not just fewer games but more games at odd times (e.g. 4 p.m. on Thursday, a.k.a. dinnertime in Florida).
This brings us to…
MORE DETAILS ON THE MLB-MiLB COUP D’ÉTAT
I’ll cut to the chase – still no word on the final list of 120. But there are some tidbits in Ballpark Digest’s story published yesterday.
Perhaps the most salient is the possible changes at the currently known as High- and Low-A levels, including a fourth High-A league (Mid-Atlantic League) and all-but-certain shift of the Northwest League from SS-A to High-A while both Florida State League (now 10 teams) and the California League (still eight) drop to Low-A, while the Sally League drops to 12 teams.
Where it gets dicey is the new High-A and how that’s divvied up. According to the article, the Midwest League also shifts to High-A and the article hints that the Northwest League will drop to six teams. What not clear is how they’ll slice down the Midwest League (10 teams?) and how many will be in the new high-A league (six?).
The complicating factor appears to be the NYPL, for which some affiliates may shift as high as AA, while others may seek to join Mid-Atlantic League. MLB has proposed a similar solution to the Applachian League (become a collegiate wood-bat league), but the vastly different sizes of markets seems to be an obstacle, e.g. Auburn vs. Aberdeen, as the larger-market teams may hold out or try to join the independents.
At the AA and AAA levels, but BPD thinks the changes will be less dramatic: perhaps a third AAA league, and some shuffling in of the two major independents (Sugar Land Skeeters and St. Paul Saints).
Without the “Final 120,” much of this speculation could be wrong. Caveat emptor.