House committee approves study of minor league baseball
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Oversight and Reform Committee approved legislation Wednesday to have the comptroller general of the U.S. study baseball’s minor leagues, which are trying to fend off a contraction proposal from major league clubs.
The committee by voice vote approved the bill, which calls on the comptroller general to “evaluate the social, economic, and historic contributions that minor league baseball has made to American life and culture.”
Major League Baseball and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, which governs the minors, are negotiating a Professional Baseball Agreement to replace the deal that expires after this season. MLB’s proposal would drop the big league affiliation of 42 minor league teams and eliminate short-season leagues not held at major league training complexes.
The current PBA guarantees a minimum 160 affiliations.
“We deserve to have our voices heard in any conversation regarding Minor League Baseball with such potentially devastating consequences for the communities we represent,” Lori Trahan, a Massachusetts Democrat, said in a statement.
MLB and the minors last met Feb. 20, and talks are expected to continue into the summer. The majors already have unilaterally announced increases in the pay of players with minor league contracts starting in 2021.
Several mayors announced a task force in January aimed at protecting teams and affiliations.
“MLB is confident that we can simultaneously keep baseball in the communities in which it is currently being played and modernize our player development system so that it fits the 21st century, improves playing conditions and increases opportunities for players,” MLB said in a statement. “The most constructive role Congress can play in these negotiations is to encourage minor league baseball to continue working with MLB to address the real issues impacting minor league players and communities across the country.”