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MLB to Cut 42 Minor League Franchises

According to some reports, Minor League Baseball is giving up the fight. The junior leagues fought hard and even congress got involved, but they’ll now reportedly allow MLB to cut 42 minor league franchises. If the plan that was leaked to the media goes through. some teams will come out of this unscathed, while others get hit hard. Will your team be among those who lose a minor league franchise?

The good news is that no Triple-A affiliates will be lost, however, the cuts start at the Double-A level (4 teams). From there, High Class-A takes a hit, losing another four teams, followed by the Low Class-A division which will see six teams become extinct. The Short-Season division will lose 11 teams, followed by the Rookie Division which will lose 17 franchises.

Late Saturday afternoon, the Chattanooga Lookouts (one of the teams expected to be cut), issued the following statement.

The following list was leaked to the media quite some time ago, and MiLB continues to maintain that the list is fluid at best, inaccurate at worst. Also playing into the decision are such variables as facility upgrades, geographical proximity to other clubs, and, in some cases, political pressure. A recent radio news report continued to state that the cuts would take place on May 1st, however, MiLB’s current Professional Baseball Agreement runs through September 20, 2020, so any teams affected by the contraction would play through this season (assuming that we can get baseball going again in wake pf the pandemic).

Since the time the list was leaked, more details have emerged about how MLB will approach this. For the sake of minor league franchises such as The Lookouts, I hope the list is inaccurate, however, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s been an awful lot of smoke surrounding this.

Breakdown

It is important to note that some of the teams on this list would be Assuming the list is, in fact, accurate, MLB’s decision on which teams to nix is mind boggling. There seems to be no logical rationale. MiLB will lose 42 teams, which should mean that every team loses one, with some suffering a pair of losses. This isn’t at all how it worked out.

Whether the MLB affiliate is a small market team or large market made no difference. The reason behind MLB bypassing some of the teams isn’t clear, nor do the geographical locations of the MLB teams or their MiLB affiliates seem to factor in.

So, which teams lose affiliates? I broke things down by division, with the number in parenthesis denoting the number of MiLB affiliates the teams will lose. Again: This list has been called fluid.

AL East (Total of five MiLB affiliates lost): Blue Jays (1); Orioles (1); Rays (1); Red Sox (1); Yankees (1).

AL Central (Total of eight MiLB affiliates lost): Indians (1); Royals (3); Tigers (2); Twins (1); White Sox (1).

AL West (Total of five MiLB affiliates lost): Angels (2); Astros (0); Athletics (2); Mariners (1), Rangers (0).

NL East (Total of nine MiLB affiliates lost): Braves (2); Marlins (2); Mets (2); Nationals (2); Phillies (1).

NL Central (Total of eight MiLB affiliates lost): Brewers (1): Cardinals (2); Cubs (0); Pirates (1); Reds (4).

NL West (Total of seven MiLB affiliates lost): Diamondbacks (2); Dodgers (1); Giants (1); Padres (1); Rockies (2).

Double-A Cuts (4 teams)

Mets: Binghamton, New York (Rumble Ponies); Reds: Chattanooga Lookouts (Chattanooga, TN); Tigers: Erie SeaWolves (Erie, PA)); Diamondbacks: Jackson Generals (Jackson, TN).

High Class-A Cuts (4 teams)

Rockies: Lancaster JetHawks (Lancaster, CA); Braves: Florida Fire Frogs (North Port, FL); Orioles: Frederick Keys (Frederick, MD); Reds: Daytona Tortugas (Daytona, FL).

Low Class-A Cuts (6 teams)

To begin, the Angels will lose the Burlington Bees (Burlington, IA); Marlins: Clinton LumberKings (Clinton, IA); Athletics: Beloit Snappers (Beloit, WI); Royals: Lexington Legends (Lexington, KY). Next, the Nationals will watch the Hagerstown Suns fold (Hagerstown, MD), then the Mariners will say goodbye to the West Virginia Power (Charleston, WV).

Short-Season Cuts (11 teams)

Nationals: Auburn Doubledays (Auburn, NY); Marlins: Batavia MuckDogs (Batavia, NY); Tigers: Norwich Sea Unicorns (Norwich, CT – previously called the Connecticut Tigers); Red Sox: Lowell Spinners (Lowell, MA). Next, the Indians will lose the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, OH); Giants: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Keizer, OR); Cardinals: State College Spikes (College, PA) and the Yankees will forego the Staten Island Yankees (Staten Island, NY). Finally, the Padres take a hit on the Tri-City Dust Devils (Pasco, WA); Athletics: Vermont Lake Monsters (Burlington, VT) and the Phillies will ditch the Williamsport Crosscutters (Williamsport, PA).

Rookie Division Cuts (17 teams)

No division lose more than the Rookie Division, as they’ll lose 17 teams on or about May 1st.

The Reds will take another pair of hits, losing both the Billings Mustangs (Billings, Montana) and the Greeneville Reds, situated in Tusculum, Tennessee. The Royals also get hit twice, losing a franchise in Burlington, NC (Burlington Royals) and then again in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I have no idea what in the hell a Chukar is, but that’s who KC loses in Idaho.

Toronto will lose the Bluefield Blue Jays (Bluefield, VA), while Pittsburgh will say farewell to the Bristol Pirates (Bristol, TN). Atlanta will lose its franchise in Danville, VA (the Danville Braves).

Minnesota will lose the Elizabethton Twins (Elizabethton, TN), The Rockies loses the Grand Junction Rockies (Grand Junction, CO), and the White Sox lose their Great Falls Voyagers, located in Great Falls, Montana.

The Johnson City (TN) Cardinals are history, as are the Kingsport Mets (Kingsport, TN). The Missoula PaddleHeads (who could be proud to wear a jersey that reads that?) will become a thing of the past, which will cost Arizona another affiliate. That team used to be called the Missoula Osprey, which is a hell of lot cooler than PaddleHeads.

The Dodgers lose an affiliate in Ogden, Utah (Raptors), while on the other side of Los Angeles, the Angels say goodbye to the Orem Owlz (Orem, UT). The final two losses come for the Rays, who’ll lose their franchise in Princeton, West Virginia (Princeton Rays) and finally, the Brew Crew take a hit as they’ll lose the Rocky Mountain Vibes, located in Colorado Springs, CO.

The Impact of the Decision

MLB’s decision to cut the 42 Minor League franchises will create problems in several areas. Obviously, players, coaches and trainers will be displaced. Concession workers, vendors, security personnel, front office staff and groundskeepers will join the unemployed. Local economies (restaurants, bars, etc.) will suffer, as will the companies who provide goods and services to the teams.

On the other hand, it will also help to ensure better competition, as well as better working conditions for the players and teams which do remain. Salaries will go up, travel will be lessened, and with a little luck, the leagues will be realigned to a more geographically friendly set of divisions.


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12 thoughts on “MLB to Cut 42 Minor League Franchises

  1. For the Vermont Lake Monsters, this league is literally the only thing we have in Vermont to enjoy as an activity and the only thing that resembles a local team. Look it up, there are no major leagues of any sort here. This will have monumental consequences for our state and Queen City and I cannot be more disappointed in the lack of focus study with this decision. For a state like Vermont it is vital to have activities for families and our citizens.

    1. Good morning, Stephanie. It’s sad t think all of these teams will be cut. Many small towns have no professional sports, so Minor League affiliates are what they cling to. Maybe there’ll be some 11th hour changes and some, if not all, of the teams will be spared, but for now, it looks like May 1st is when this is tentatively supposed to occur. The sides have been taking, though communications have been tense at times. Best of luck to your Vermont Lake Monsters.

  2. what I can’t figure out is how they’re gonna cut four AA teams, wouldn’t that leave four MLB teams without one? unless those MLB teams are gonna take this opportunity to create a new AA affiliate closer to home?

    1. What would be closer than the Binghamton (NY) Rumble Ponies to the Mets? It’s a 3 hour drive between the stadiums.

      1. As Ken mentioned below, some teams may end up changing classes. Expect the Brooklyn Cyclones to become the Mets’ AA affiliate.

    2. I’ve spoken with the director of communications for MiLB. He says that some teams may end up changing classes as divisions might be realigned.

  3. Very Sad for the fans in those areas, especially if you have No Major League team near by.
    I would be heart broken if our local Minor League team was on that list.

  4. The rationale is simply saving money. The majority of the teams that are cut are the teams owned by private ownership groups. Those teams that have ownership groups that consist of a parent MLB club (Modesto Nuts) or owned by minority owners of MLB club (Dodger minor league franchises) will function. Also expect to see teams switch leagues. CA league with 7 teams? Caroline league with 11?

  5. Yet again it is about time for Congress to repeal the MLB anti-trust exemption. The specific targeting of independent ownership is clearly anti-competitive and begs to be challenged again in court and legislation

  6. The May 1 part of this story is false. The current Professional Baseball Agreement goes through September 30, 2020, so if the coronavirus threat is over in time to play baseball this summer, these teams will play. Their fate beyond the 2020 season is still being negotiated.
    Jeff Lantz
    Senior Director, Communications
    Minor League Baseball

  7. It’s been over a decade since I lived in Frederick, MD, but when I lived there I enjoyed going to Keys games. They had a very loyal following and the stands were usually packed. The team was also a big part of the community. If the franchise is cut, they will be missed!

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