Astros News

Astros: What proposed reduction in minor league teams means

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Equipment on the field as the Detroit Tigers take batting practice before a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Equipment on the field as the Detroit Tigers take batting practice before a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 24: A detailed view of a Rawlings official baseball and a Gatorade cup sitting in the dugout prior to the Spring Training game between the Houston Astros and the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 24, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 11-1. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 24: A detailed view of a Rawlings official baseball and a Gatorade cup sitting in the dugout prior to the Spring Training game between the Houston Astros and the Detroit Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium on February 24, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 11-1. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

What It Means for Players

Obviously, fewer minor league teams means fewer minor league players. But there’s already an agreement in place to shorten the number of rounds in the MLB draft, and it’s highly unlikely there will ever be another 40-round draft in the foreseeable future.

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Many of the late round picks are players who are known to be unlikely to sign, such as those who are committed to play college ball. Further, few late round picks ever reach the majors. The players who don’t get big signing bonuses are often in dire financial straits, making a pitiful salary while chasing an unlikely dream. Depending on your point of view, having fewer of those players could be good or bad.

There’s no word on whether minor league salaries would be any better with fewer minor league affiliates. My personal hope would be that salaries do improve thanks to teams having fewer affiliates and fewer players, since there’s no real reason not to pay these guys a living wage. They’re already getting a nominal raise in 2021, but hopefully there will be more.

The players who are drafted and signed will probably have less wiggle room with their play on the field. While a team might tolerate poor performance from a talented player for a little while, they might be less inclined to do so if there are fewer minor league roster spots overall.

But in the end, if the changes will improve facilities and, hopefully, the quality of life for the minor league players, it’s hard to disagree with it. And if Astros fans can see some of these prospects play a little closer to home, it might work out pretty well for everyone involved.

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