After a pair of reports put a fresh scare into minor league baseball fans Tuesday, negotiations regarding a new Professional Baseball Agreement between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball continue to churn along as a few dozen markets wait to see what might become of baseball in their cities.
The current PBA, which sets the terms of business between the major leagues and MiLB, is set to expire after the 2020 season.
Late last year, Major League Baseball proposed a radical change to the decades-old agreement that includes lopping 40 or so minor league teams out of the fold when it comes to major-league affiliation. The proposed cut list is largely comprised of short-season leagues, including the Ogden Raptors and the entire Pioneer League.
The basis of the proposal was to cut out lower-level teams and train those players at team facilities instead of having them play games, which, in short-season leagues, sometimes involves long bus rides and less-favorable facilities.
Teams like the Raptors have punched back, citing top, safe facilities, improvement investments from local government, and massive success in attendance.
After ardent opposition in many areas over the last few months — including members of Congress, a league of mayors from across the country, and MiLB’s public statements — reports Tuesday from Baseball American and the Associated Press claimed that, when the next round of negotiations took place Wednesday, MiLB was ready to accept the proposed contraction of teams.
MiLB refuted the reports, and Wednesday then passed with no news.
Ogden Raptors team president Dave Baggott said negotiations are likely to continue for some time, and released the following written statement Wednesday:
“The Ogden Raptors stand firm in its desire to remain a Professional Affiliated Baseball Team. Negotiations are ongoing. For now, we will allow the negotiations to play out accordingly. Whether the results are positive or negative, we will respond and react at that time,” Baggott’s statement said. “Until such time, we ask everyone to remain safe and hopeful for a 2020 season. Rest assured, the Ogden Raptors will be playing Professional Baseball in 2021 and beyond.”
Thursday, Minor League Baseball released a new statement on social media:
“The respective negotiating teams of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball held a constructive meeting on Wednesday,” it said. “The parties are continuing their discussions with the goal of concluding a mutually beneficial long-term agreement in the near future.”
At the same time, the whole baseball world waits on progress in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. No U.S. professional baseball leagues began before the sports world paused in mid-March. While MLB mulls proposals on how to start its season, the minor league schedule awaits things like when, where and how many rounds the 2020 baseball draft will be.
But with all that, Baggott says it’s business as usual for the Raptors, as much as possible, to prepare for a 2020 season.
The Raptors are coming off the best three-year stretch in franchise history. That span has included winning the 2017 league championship, 54 wins in 2019, and a new 26-year team attendance record of 146,201 fans (3,951 per game) in 2019.