Minor League Changes
Thursday, September 03 2020 @ 11:41 AM EDT
Contributed by: John Northey
For 2021 the minors will be changed drastically from 2019, and not just due to COVID.
ESPN has an article up about this. A summary of the biggest changes
So for us Jay fans the big question is what teams survive? Buffalo (AAA) is obvious. The Jays seem to have been on good terms with New Hampshire Fisher Cats (AA) and Lansing Lugnuts (A) so I suspect both of them survive too. That leaves one slot for Dunedin (A+) and that is it. Good bye Vancouver, Bluefield, and the Gulf Coast Blue Jays. The article (and others like it) don't make it clear if teams in the Dominican Summer League count as one of the 4. Before seeing short seasons are dead I figured Vancouver would survive just for the nation wide marketing efforts. I guess they could be upgraded to a full season A ball team and dump the Lugnuts, but that would be difficult to do given there isn't a western based A ball league at this time. Making Winnipeg a full season team (currently independent) and joining the Mid-West League would make more sense but who knows if that could work financially or weather wise (I used to live in Thunder Bay which wasn't really warm until late June - opening day for the college league that played there was always cold, April/May games in Winnipeg which is further north would be nightmarish).
- Down from 160 teams to 120 - 4 per club max
- Some independent teams might become ML affiliates
- No rookie and short-season Class A levels. Lower-level players will train in their major league club's spring training facilities in Arizona or Florida. So goodbye Vancouver, nice having you as a Jays affiliate but you are now on your own.
- MLB will take over merchandising, broadcast and sponsorship rights, splitting revenues 50-50 with the minor league clubs. So expect a lot fewer fun names, a lot more teams named after the ML one.
I expect to see a lot of new indy leagues emerge from this that are very localized. In truth there really isn't a need for the massive system there is now for the majors to run, just like the draft can be cut to 20 rounds permanently (and I suspect it will be). For example, go back to 2010 and the GCL Jays had just 8 guys who eventually got to the majors (Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez, Sean Nolin, Shawn Hill (working his way back), Danny Barnes, Jake Marisnick, Dalton Pompey, Carlos Ramirez, Moises Sierra, and Travis Snider). I suspect all of them would've been just fine doing in-house games and heavy instruction in Dunedin on one of the many fields there. Just 5 the next year have made it, 2009 saw 11 make it. More than I expected to see to be honest. 2009 Auburn (same level of play as Vancouver) had 6 guys make it eventually. So the big question for ML teams is what this summer taught them about can you train kids at a facility just as well as you can in the minors playing in front of crowds? I suspect the answer is yes.