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The minor leagues approved a seven-year contract with the major leagues by a 27-9 vote Thursday.

The vote by the National Association of the Professional Baseball Leagues, the minors' governing body, was exactly the 75 percent minimum required for approval. Major league owners ratified the Professional Baseball Agreement Tuesday.

"The majors and the minors must work together to ensure the best and most orderly system of developing talent for big-league play," National Association President Sal Artiaga said.

"Our vote is an endorsement of that view of a relationship that dates back to the turn of the century," he said.

"On the other hand, many of our teams have told me they are still deeply concerned about the bargaining process and the sweeping changes represented by the new PBA."

The contract may be reopened after four years.

Sources said that Buffalo Bisons President Robert E. Rich Jr. voted against the contract. Rich would not confirm this.

The settlement frees Buffalo to negotiate a new player development contract with any unaffiliated major league team.

The Bisons, who have been affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates the last three seasons, would have until Saturday to indicate which major league teams they are interested in pursuing. They would then have 20 days to negotiate with those teams.

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