A major reconstruction of the minor leagues is imminent for whenever the 2021 season begins and roughly 40 teams are expected to be contracted, most out of short-season Class A ball.
But the current plan from Major League Baseball is not simply to dissolve those teams and leave their communities without the game. Instead, many will be transitioned from teams affiliated with MLB organizations to wood-bat leagues filled with college players making the transition from swinging with aluminum.
According to Baseball America, that's what MLB has in mind for the New York-Penn League. The league that dates to 1939 and once had franchises in places such as Niagara Falls, Jamestown and Olean would feature rising college seniors rather than first-year professionals.
MLB announced a similar plan last month for the Appalachian League, which includes a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate in Bluefield, W.Va., that has sent several players to the Bisons and the major leagues. That league would be for rising college freshmen and sophomores.
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The proposed change would impact the Batavia Muckdogs, who would transition from a 76-game season to a 60-game slate. Among other highlights of the report on the NY-P League, the Rich Baseball Operations-owned team in Morgantown, W.Va., could move to a full-season club while the Brooklyn Cyclones might replace Binghamton as the New York Mets' Double-A affiliate.
The majors and minors continue to negotiate a new Professional Baseball Agreement to govern the minor leagues, under which MLB is expected to assume full control of the minors and dissolve league offices and the central office of the minors in St. Petersburg, Fla. Pat O'Conner, the longtime president of the minor leagues, announced his retirement last month in anticipation of the change.
The Bisons and International League might be impacted by the new PBA with a revised alignment of teams in Triple-A, but those details have yet to be determined. With uncertainty over the agreement and the coronavirus pandemic, there is still no schedule or planned start date for the 2021 season at Sahlen Field.