Latest on MLB/MiLB negotiations, and potential impacts in West Virginia

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball executives continue to meet and negotiate the next Professional Baseball Agreement, which will go into effect for the 2021 baseball season.

Among other talking points to get to a new deal, the potential elimination of 40 minor league teams is a major point of negotiations.

Minor League Baseball wants to keep as many teams as baseball, while Major League Baseball wants to reduce the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120.

We spoke, once again, with Minor League Baseball Senior Director of Communications, Jeff Lantz, to get the latest on the negotiations, and how any potential changes could impact teams in West Virginia.

We also spoke about how COVID-19 could impact teams in the Mountain State.

On the topic of the lists of teams that are on the chopping block: there have been many lists of teams reported, however, Lantz says those lists aren’t final.

“Teams that were on the initial list that was leaked, Major League Baseball has told us, and told several media outlets, that that list is fluid and changing from time to time based on facilities and planned upgrades and funding for ballpark upgrades, things of that nature. And based on the geographic locations — if they’re moving this team out of this league does that make it better for that other team in be in this league,” Lantz said.

When asked about how the coronavirus pandemic has been impacting Minor League Baseball, Lantz said that it hit at an awful time for MiLB clubs.

When the sports world was shut down, teams were gearing up for the 2020 season.

An important note is that, while Major League Baseball has been looking numerous plans of how to play this year either with or without fans in the stands, the two sides have agreed that no Minor League Baseball games will be played until fans can safely attend games in person.

No fans means no games for the MiLB.

Here are other takeaways from our conversation with Lantz:

  • The two sides have been meeting about the PBA since November.
  • The Appalachian League (home to the Bluefield Blue Jays, Princeton Rays and Bristol Pirates) is owned and operated by Major League Baseball, which means the MLB has complete control of the league.
  • Major League Baseball wants to have all Minor League affiliates be full-season teams — meaning they play from April through September. That could be a negative factor against the West Virginia Black Bears, which shares Monongalia County Ballpark with West Virginia University.
  • The WV Black Bears haven’t appeared on any leaked list as a team that would be eliminated, though none of those lists are official, and the list is fluid as Lantz said.
  • The other three teams in West Virginia — The West Virginia Power, Bluefield Blue Jays and Princeton Rays — have all appeared on reported lists as teams that could be eliminated.
  • Lantz reiterated a point that he has made in previous conversations that Morgantown/Granville is a good spot, geographically, and could fit in with multiple leagues, whenever things are reorganized.

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