Major League Baseball eliminated more than 40 affiliated teams in the top four levels of the minor leagues over the winter, leaving 120 affiliated teams, four per MLB franchise.
Friday, MLB announced that all 120 teams have signed what is now termed a Professional Development License. License agreements are going to be for at least 10 years, rather than the two- or four-year agreements minor-league clubs previously had.
MLB says that many affiliates will be in significantly closer geographic proximity to the clubs with which they are associated. On average, MLB says its clubs will now be over 200 miles closer to their Triple-A affiliates.
It appears that long-standing league names like “International League,” “Pacific Coast League,” “Midwest League” and “Florida State League” are disappearing, per this alignment announced by MLB Friday:
This isn’t a good thing. It takes some of the romance out of baseball, and will inevitably lead to this:
Just wait until all the leagues and divisions get branded sponsorships. The Qualcomm Double-A Northeast Division Presented By TD Ameritrade.— Ryan Gillman (@ryangillman) February 12, 2021
*Annie walks in wearing short shorts, a low-cut blouse, and an apron*— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) February 12, 2021
Crash Davis: "Don't you think this is a little excessive for Triple-A East?"
See, it's not that good.
Anyway, the Iowa Cubs will be in the Midwest Division of Triple-A East. That will presumably reduce travel for them.
The Tennessee Smokies will be in the North Division of Double-A South.
The South Bend Cubs will play in the West Division of High-A Central.
And the Myrtle Beach Pelicans will compete in the South Division of Low-A East.
MLB’s release says minor leaguers in this affiliated system will have salary increases of “38 to 72 percent,” though it doesn’t break that down by team.
It also includes this statement by Commissioner Rob Manfred:
“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. In modernizing our Minor League system, we prioritized 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 unrivaled technology and resources with minor league teams and players.”
I know, it says a lot without really saying anything.
Minor league teams should be releasing 2021 schedules soon, though it’s still unclear exactly when the minor-league season will begin or how many games will be played.