Colorado Rockies: Will Major League Baseball sever ties Minor League Baseball in 2021?

It looks like tumultuous times will be on the horizon between Major League and Minor League Baseball for negotiations on remaining together.

Relations between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball looks like they have taken a turn for the worst this weekend as Major League Baseball is threatening to sever ties with Minor League Baseball after this upcoming season.

As you likely know already, this all started because MLB wants to cut around 40 minor league teams for the 2021 season, including Colorado Rockies affiliates, Advanced-A Lancaster Jethawks, Rookie-affiliate Grand Junction Rockies, and the entire Pioneer League, which resides entirely in the Mountain Time Zone.

This latest spat started on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings. When asked about the situation at the Winter Meetings, Commissioner Rob Manfred had this to say about Minor League Baseball.

“I hope that Minor League Baseball,” said Manfred, “which has taken the position that they’re not willing to discuss anything but the status quo or any changes that would provide for upgrades in adequate facilities, better working conditions for our players. That they move off the take-it-or-leave-it status quo approach and come to the table and try to make a deal.”

That statement resulted in Minor League Baseball rebutting Manfred with a four-page memo. (Josh Norris of Baseball America has the highlights of the memo here, which includes MiLB stating that MLB has “repeatedly and inaccurately” been describing the MiLB stance on a variety of critical issues in negotiations).

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MLB quickly responded to the four-page memo with a statement.

“If the National Association [of Minor League Clubs] has an interest in an agreement with Major League Baseball, it must address the very signifcant issues with the current system at the bargaining table,” the statement read.

“Otherwise, MLB clubs will be free to affiliate with any minor league team or potential team in the United States, including independent league teams and cities which are not permitted to compete for an affiliate under the current agreement.”

Manfred has also criticized MiLB owners for taking the negotiations public. One anonymous MiLB owner spoke to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times about the situation.

“Rob is attempting to decimate the industry, destroy baseball in communities and eliminate thousands of jobs, and he’s upset that the owners of the teams have gone public with that information in an effort to save their teams,” the owner said on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations. “That’s rich.”

Tomorrow, Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will be in Burlington, Iowa with minor league executives, employees and former players. Burlington is the home of the Bees, which are an Angels affiliate that is one of the roughly 40 on the chopping block.

There also has been bi-partisan support against MLB’s notion, as nearly a quarter of the House of Representatives signed a letter voicing their disapproval of MLB’s notion, including two Colorado congressmen. However, MLB is not afraid of facing the government in this situation and said so in their most recent statement.

“MLB has assured every public official who has contacted us that MLB will work diligently to preserve organized baseball in a compelling, fan-friendly format in every American city that currently has an affiliate,” the statement read. “MiLB has not made such a commitment.”

Next: Who will (and who should/could) be the Colorado Rockies closer

As it currently looks, the situation could get a lot worse before it gets better between the two sides and the fans of minor league baseball, baseball fans in general, and MiLB players are going to be the ones that will be seeing the biggest impact.

UPDATE (2:43 PM M.T.): Minor League Baseball has released another statement in response to MLB’s response to the four-page memo. It says, in part, that “MiLB agrees with MLB that contentious public statements are no conducive to the ability to conduct serious and good faith negotiations. However… we believe all should agree as well that accuracy in the public commentary is of the utmost importance…We sincerely hope that we can move forward with MLB in the spirt of the excellent partnership we mutually have enjoyed for so many years.” You can read the entire statement here.

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