Minor League Baseball in the age of Relegation
Despite more than doubling of teams in the league, there will still be a need for developing players to prove they are ready to make it to The Show.
My suggestion? Four levels of minor leagues, with the top three levels corresponding to the MLB Levels and the last level being a rookie level. The Rookie-level could work exactly the same as the current AZL and GCL teams that currently exist in Arizona and Florida to help young newly drafted players develop without the league making much money from their progress.
The other three levels will mirror the current state of MiLB, being called Triple-A, Double-A, and Single-A respectively.
Triple-A will have 30 teams across three leagues, Double-A will have 18 teams across three leagues, and Single-A will have 18 teams across three leagues. Another reminder that all levels in this system are technically in “MLB”, so now all three levels of the Minors are technically at what we currently call “Triple-A clubs”.
They are just divided up to where players would play the same players they would if their club remains at the same level when they are called up. A similar idea to this is what MLB is currently trying to do with their recent restructuring of the Minors.
If a team gets promoted or relegated, their affiliated team will change to match the level of ball they are playing.
So, for example, if Albuquerque was in the MLB, the closest current MiLB team to them would be the Amarillo Sod Poodles. Let’s say that Albuquerque wins the Pioneer League Championship and wins their “Golden Ticket” game to get promoted to Class B. If that happened, Amarillo would also be promoted with them from Single-A to Double-A.
This provides a guaranteed continuation of affiliation with your preferred minor league club despite promotions or relegations. This not only helps with call-ups, but provides a second market for each team to grow their influence and place a foothold in, something that the minors currently try to do.
Anyway, speaking of affiliates, let’s finish on perhaps the most important money-making part of the business: RSN contracts.