Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred confirmed Thursday that the league is proposing to restructure its minor-league system, which would eliminate at least 40 teams from the lower levels, according to Kyle Glaser of Baseball America.
"We provided to (Minor League Baseball president) Pat O'Connor, at his request, and with an assurance from him that he would keep it confidential, which he subsequently broke, a list of the facilities that we felt needed to be upgraded and if they couldn’t be upgraded that we were not prepared to operate in," Manfred said at the owners meetings in Texas. "Yes, we did do that."
"We presented Minor League Baseball with a plan that covered all 160 of the franchises," he added. "So 120 of them would continue essentially under the status quo. We had a plan for the 40 where they could be involved in other professional leagues that operated under a little different economic model than the pure affiliation system."
Manfred believes there are four serious problems plaguing the minors: inadequate facilities, poor pay, exceedingly long bus rides during road trips, and clubs signing players who realistically won't make the majors.
"We have facilities - and I can show you pictures if you want to see them - that are simply not appropriate for professional baseball players," he said. "Inadequate showers, tiny locker rooms, no place for players to eat, no place for players to work out. We then explained to them they've moved 77 franchises since 1990. Left communities 77 times in order to get a bigger subsidy somewhere else. That’s fine, that's their business. They want to move, they can move.
"What it's done to us is produce travel that is not acceptable for professional players. Bus rides, long, six, eight, 10 hours and trust me, in a lot of cases, it's not on a luxury cruise liner, it's on a school bus."
Congress members recently penned a letter to MLB expressing opposition toward the proposed plan, according to ESPN.
The league reportedly hopes to implement the changes prior to the 2021 season when the current MiLB agreement expires.