By Jim Juliano
Since our last issue of Legal Insights, the restructuring of Minor League Baseball (MiLB) has been established, and the teams have started their seasons, including the July 4 fireworks! This is welcome news after MiLB’s entire 2020 season was canceled in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The new structure involves a franchise approach. In years past, the MiLB teams had developed a governing organization, the National Association (“NA”), that supervised the MiLB operations for all 160 teams. Effective as of February of this year, Major League Baseball’s affiliated entity, the MLB Professional Development Leagues, LLC (“MLBPDL”), runs the show, and all MiLB owners are now franchisees.
The 120 or so MiLB teams under this new structure are playing in newly organized leagues and skill levels beginning with Low A, then High A, then AA, and finally AAA, before reaching the Majors.
The new approach is bringing a new set of challenges to the operation of MiLB teams. MLBPDL is developing new rules and regulations for a number of operation and infrastructure improvements, including more efficient travel schedules, wellness, nutrition, workout facilities, and clubhouse standards. Some of these rules resemble the NA system, some do not.
The best news is that MiLB teams are playing baseball again. Get your family together and go to a MiLB game. Have some fun!