PAWTUCKET – As the R.I. Commerce Department continues to weigh the possibilities of future tenants at McCoy Stadium after the PawSox leave following the 2020 season, it’s important to note that Major League Baseball has mapped out plans to bring noticeable changes to the Minor League Baseball landscape.
The plan, as articulated in a recent article by Baseball America, would result in the reduction of 42 MLB-affiliated Minor League teams from the lowest possible classification. One of the leagues whose future appears on uncertain ground is the Short-Season Single-A New York Penn League.
A team from the New York Penn League was targeted by the group “Minor League Baseball for Pawtucket”, which back in the spring was announced as one of six bidders for the future of McCoy Stadium. With the current Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) set to expire following the 2020 season, it’s possible that negotiations on the new PBA won’t begin in earnest until the first quarter of the 2021 calendar year.
The proposal, per Baseball America, would convert lower-league minor-league franchises such as those currently comprising the New York Penn-League into a so-called Dream League with players who are seeking to break into professional baseball. To illustrate how radical the current proposal is, you have to go back to 1990 to find the last time the PBA underwent dramatic changes.
“We are in discussions with owners of the Minor League teams to reorganize elements of the system with the goal of improving the working conditions of minor league players,” said Major League Baseball in a statement that appeared in the New York Times.
Some of the elements that have been stressed include better player compensation, reduced travel time between affiliates, and upgrading the facilities. If affiliated baseball was to come to McCoy Stadium following the PawSox’ departure to Worcester, such an agreement would trigger new facility standards which have to be met for a ballpark that’s about to celebrate 78 years.
This past September, MiLB President & Chief Executive Pat O’Connor sent a letter to MiLB clubs to warn of significant changes that could be on the horizon. He also advised teams to not make financial commitments or sign new lease agreements beyond 2020.
While the hope of bringing a MiLB franchise to McCoy is not extinguished at this present time, the road to making this a reality has become infinitely more challenging.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03