Major League Baseball (MLB) has announced the restructure to its new minor league system to a 120-team regional alignment.
The restructure will see two Triple-A divisions, and three divisions each for Double-A, high-A and low-A. Forty teams have dropped from 2019, which was the last season under the old minor league system, leaving the remaining teams to be offered the 10-year licenses in December. All 120 had been accepted by last Wednesday's deadline.
Players will benefit from the new structure through salary increases of between 38 per cent and 72 per cent for the 2021 season, alongside modernised facility standards. In-season travel will also be reduced and amenities and working conditions will be improved.
“We are excited to unveil this new model, which not only provides a pipeline to the majors, but continues the minor leagues’ tradition of entertaining millions of families in hundreds of communities,” started MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.
“In modernising our minor league system, we prioritised the qualities that make the minor leagues such an integral part of our game while strengthening how we develop professional athletes on and off the field. We look forward to demonstrating the best of our game throughout local communities, supporting all those who are working hard to grow the sport, and sharing unrivalled technology and resources with minor league teams and players.”
In what is a historic move for the minor league, it will be the first time in over 100 years that it will operate separately from MLB, where it will now be run from MLB's New York office by Peter Woodfork, replacing the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which had governed the minors since 1901.
The new structure has drawn criticism since the announcement of plans to shake-up the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in 2019. US senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: "This is about greed – plain and simple. Closing down minor league teams, like the Vermont Lake Monsters, is a disaster for baseball fans, workers, and communities across the country. I will do all I can to fight it."
Author: Jake Wilkin