2018 file photo
Written by Edward Smith
Negotiations resumed Wednesday between Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball regarding its farm system and the future of professional baseball clubs across the nation. And while the Fresno Grizzlies’ future seems intact, the threat of a downgrade from Triple-A looms.
The MLB continues to demand a cut to the farm system by 40 teams, according to Ballpark Digest. Multiple news sources have described emails between the two sides, threatening to go so far as to completely end the relationship between major and minor league.
What the majors want is a farm system of no more than 120 teams. And the Fresno Grizzlies were named specifically as a team that could be demoted.
Facilities and travel time are continually referenced as the two biggest factors in considering which teams to cut.
Fresno Grizzlies President Derek Franks said in an interview these negotiations put them in a unique position — while Major League Baseball controls the players, the Fresno Grizzlies lease the stadium.
Having a modern facility gives them some leverage.
Since the new ownership Fresno Sports and Events took over in 2018, they have invested $3.4 million in capital improvements and even more into a reserve capital fund. Those improvements may put them in a prime position in negotiations with Major League teams looking for state-of-the-art facilities to train players.
Also on the chopping block are all rookie and short-season Single-A baseball teams.
The Visalia Rawhide — an Advanced-A team — was not named in a revised list of teams to be cut, according to Jill Gearin, who handles media relations with the team.
“We have a good relationship with our city and our affiliates, the Arizona Diamondbacks,” said Gearin.
They have also kept up their facilities, Gearin said.