Minor League Sports

MLB's current plan would eliminate 42 minor league teams, including Quad Cities, Clinton and Burlington in Iowa

Clinton LumberKings pitcher Alberto Guerrero (41) is congratulated by his teammates after being pulled during a baseball game at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Sep. 9, 2019. (David Harmantas/Freelance)
Clinton LumberKings pitcher Alberto Guerrero (41) is congratulated by his teammates after being pulled during a baseball game at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Sep. 9, 2019. (David Harmantas/Freelance)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The New York Times and New York Daily News reported this past week that 42 franchises are on the chopping block beginning with the 2021 season as Major League Baseball seeks to downsize its minor league baseball operations.

The franchises that would be eliminated include the Quad Cities River Bandits, Burlington Bees and Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League. The Cedar Rapids Kernels apparently would be spared for now.

The Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB expires after this coming season, and it was reported last month that Major League Baseball was going to demand in negotiations that minor league affiliates upgrade facilities and provide better accommodations overall for players. MLB also wanted to cut down on minor league travel and have its affiliates be closer in geographic proximity to their big league clubs.

The Times and Daily News reported the New York-Penn League, Appalachian League, Pioneer League and Northwest League (all Rookie leagues) essentially would cease to exist, with all Rookie-level players being assigned to complex leagues in Arizona and Florida that are owned by MLB clubs. The MLB Draft also would be halved to 20 rounds, with all draft picks who sign not being eligible to play in games until the following season, assigned instead to the complex leagues for indoctrination into analytics.

MLB clubs would be limited to 150 minor league players, while there is no player cap now. Most believe this streamlining, if you will, is being done to offset Major League Baseball increasing minor leaguers’ salaries.

It should be stressed this is not necessarily a done deal, but there is no question Major League Baseball has most all of the power in these “negotiations” with MiLB. The Daily News reported MLB has told MiLB the elimination of 42 minor league franchises — first proposed by the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers — will go through, no matter what.

MLB has prosposed a “Dream League” of free agent players for those MiLB communities who are axed, with MLB being only minimally invested financially.

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Here is the list of the 42 minor league clubs Major League Baseball supposedly will eliminate, with their league and current major league parent):

— Auburn (New York-Penn League/Nationals

— Batavia (New York-Penn League/Marlins)

— Billings (Pioneer League/Reds)

— Binghamton (Double-A Eastern League/Mets)

— Bluefield (Appalachian League/Blue Jays)

— Bristol (Appalachian League/Pirates)

— Burlington (Midwest League/Angels)

— Burlington (Appalachian League/Royals)

— Chattanooga (Double-A Southern League/Reds)

— Clinton (Midwest League/Marlins)

— Connecticut (New York-Penn League/Tigers)

— Danville (Appalachian League/Braves)

— Daytona (High-A Florida State League/Reds)

— Elizabethton (Appalachian League/Twins)

— Erie (Double-A Eastern League/Tigers)

— Florida (High-A Florida State League/Braves)

— Frederick (High-A Carolina League/Orioles)

— Grand Junction (Pioneer League/Rockies)

— Great Falls (Pioneer League/White Sox)

— Greeneville (Appalachian League/Reds)

— Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic League/Nationals)

— Idaho Falls (Pioneer League/Royals)

— Jackson (Double-A Southern League/Diamondbacks)

— Johnson City (Appalachian League/Cardinals)

— Kingsport (Appalachian League/Mets)

— Lancaster (High-A California League/Rockies)

— Lexington (Low-A South Atlantic League/Royals)

— Lowell (New York-Penn League/Red Sox)

— Mahoning Valley (New York-Penn League/Indians)

— Missoula (Pioneer League/Diamondbacks)

— Ogden (Pioneer League/Dodgers)

— Orem (Pioneer League/Angels)

— Princeton (Appalachian League/Rays)

— Quad Cities (Midwest League/Astros)

— Rocky Mountain (Pioneer League/Brewers)

— Salem-Keizer (Northwest League/Giants)

— State College (New York-Penn League/Cardinals)

— Staten Island (New York-Penn League/Yankees)

— Tri-City (Northwest League/Padres)

— Vermont (New York-Penn League/Athletics)

— West Virginia (Low-A South Atlantic League/Mariners)

— Williamsport (New York-Penn League/Phillies)

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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