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MLB-MiLB talks take marked turn toward a deal

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball released a joint statement on their ongoing Professional Baseball Agreement negotiations, suggesting more than ever a deal could be soon at hand after months of bitter conflict.

The two parties collectively said, “the respective negotiating teams of Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball held a constructive meeting on [April 22]. The parties are continuing their discussions, with the goal of concluding a mutually beneficial long-term agreement in the near future.”

The fact the parties made a joint public statement at all, and then went so far as to describe their talks as “constructive” marks a significant reversal from more than six months of open and growing hostility between them. 

MLB is seeking a dramatical overhaul of the affiliated minors, and has proposed cutting 40 of the 160 current franchises, executing a major geographic realignment plan, and fundamentally changing how MLB clubs choose their MiLB affiliates. 

MiLB thus far has angrily resisted those efforts, and the matter also reached various levels of local and federal government.

But quickly rising financial stress among MiLB clubs that are particularly dependent on gate revenue for economic survival and a 2020 season still on indefinite hiatus has prompted a fundamental shift in the PBA talks. MiLB is now said to be open to some form of MLB’s contraction plan, and the latest joint statement suggesting the potential of a deal “in the near future” lends further credence to that notion.

The April 22 negotiating session was electronically based, and lasted for about an hour. A date for the next session has not been finalized.