Detroit Tigers: The end of the Professional Baseball Agreement

The Detroit Tigers have their instructional league roster released as they head back to Lakeland. But what lies ahead for the rest of the minor league system in 2021?

As we start October, the Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball expired on September 30 without any new agreement. For those who may not know what is the Professional Baseball Agreement is and how affects the Detroit Tigers, here’s a brief summary of the agreement.

The agreement in plain English as said by Benjamin Hill: 

“Major League Baseball will field at least 160 Minor League teams. This guarantee is formalized through Player Development Contracts (PDCs), the two or four-year agreements that bind Major League teams and Minor League affiliates.”

Many minor leaguers and fans across the Tigers system felt the sting of no minor league baseball in 2020. But with the end of this agreement, the affiliates may change for Detroit. Rumors started in 2019 that two teams in the Tigers system, the Norwich Sea Unicorns, and the Erie SeaWolves would be eliminated. As I wrote back in April and I will say it again, it makes not a lot of sense for the Tigers to cut bait with Erie but the SeaWolves will continue.

According to JJ Cooper of Baseball America, ($) MLB can decide to negotiate directly with MiLB owners without dealing with the wishes of Minor League Baseball as a corporate entity. In other words, they can either make their own system and invite MiLB teams individually. Or as MLB has already taken over the minor league baseball offices, they can reformat the entire minor league system.

This could allow for greater expectations to be set for facilitates for whatever the standard the major league team would have set forth. As talked about in Cooper’s article, there were early discussions of minor league teams to pay money to join affiliated baseball as St Paul of the American Association and Sugar Land from the Atlantic League were invited to join affiliated baseball in 2021.

We could see up to 42 teams being eliminated. For anyone who remembers the Bristol Tigers, it was the short-season rookie spot for all the Detroit Tigers who came through from 1969 to 1994 in the Appalachian League. The league will now become a summer college wood bat league that will be supported by MLB and USA Baseball.

At this point, all is quiet on the Tigers’ affiliates side with the SeaWolves finishing up their upgrades for UPMC Park. All we can do is wait and see what happens next and wait for updates for the 50 players in instructional ball and have our credit cards ready to buy the possible new affiliate change. Oh, wait, that could be just me.

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