Big changes could be on the way for Minor League Baseball.
The lower levels of the minors may end up being restructured based on a proposal by Major League Baseball that could see as many as 40 affiliates eliminated or changed, David Waldstein of the New York Times reported.
One plan that MLB proposed would convert some teams from the lower levels - short-season, rookie ball, and low Single-A clubs - into a "Dream League" of undrafted players who are trying to crack the professional ranks, two anonymous sources told Waldstein.
Teams in that league would be co-owned and operated by MLB and MiLB, according to Waldstein. In the current system, most of the clubs have independent owners.
MiLB president Pat O'Conner recently sent a letter to teams, informing them that they should be prepared for significant changes while advising against financial commitments, agreements, and schedules beyond 2020, Waldstein added.
The agreement between MLB and MiLB will expire during September 2020.
MLB officials want to make the changes because they feel a quarter of the minor-league teams are not providing the necessary standards of pay, travel, and training facilities, among other things, for professional athletes, according to Waldstein.
"We are in discussions with the owners of the minor-league teams to reorganize elements of the system with the goal of improving the working conditions of minor-league players," MLB said in a statement obtained by Waldstein, "including upgrading the facilities to major-league standards, increasing player compensation, reducing travel time between affiliates for road games, improving transportation and hotel accommodations, increasing the number of off-days, and providing better geographical affiliations between the MLB clubs and affiliates."
The teams that are reportedly most at risk for losing affiliation with major-league clubs are those in the Appalachian League, the Northwest League, and the New York-Penn League.