PBA Extension Nearly Reached Between MLB, MILB

Lake Buena Vista, Fla — Pat O'Conner focused much of his opening session speech at the Winter Meetings focusing on the importance of relationships in each team's community. The Minor League Baseball president completed his remarks with news on perhaps the minors' most important relationship.

Minor League Baseball is nearing an agreement that will extend the professional baseball agreement (PBA) with Major League Baseball six years through the 2020 season. The agreement that guides the relationship between the two organizations is set to expire in 2014, and its early extension is another example of what has become a harmonious partnership between MLB and MILB.

"I am proud to announce here today that we are diligently working toward an agreement with our friends at Major League Baseball to extend our agreement through the year 2020," O'Conner told a packed ballroom at the Swan and Dolphin Resort. "I am excited about the message that (it) sends to the sports world and the stability it offers to our membership. This is a historical agreement in many respects."

That notion was seconded by Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball development who oversees the sport's relationship with the minors.

"This shows the kind of relationship that we have here," Solomon said later in the afternoon. "You have groups fighting in other sports, but we continue to work together . . . I consider Pat (O'Conner) one of my best friends. And I look around at a lot of owners in minor league baseball, and these are the people who I broke into the sport with."

Solomon would not offer details of the new agreement other than to say that there will be "no radical changes."

A source who requested anonymity said the only significant change will be on the tax rate minor league teams will pay major league clubs on ticket revenue. The rate was supposed to increase from 6.5 percent to 7 percent after the 2014 season, but will remain at 6.5 percent for an additional two years, the source said.

The new PBA still needs to be reviewed by commissioner Bud Selig, but Solomon said that he is confident the agreement, which is the result of "months and months of work," will be approved.

Meanwhile, Solomon said one of his goals for the Winter Meetings is to secure the opponent the Braves will be playing in next year's Civil Rights Game at Turner Field in Atlanta. The Braves will host the game for the next two seasons and Solomon expects to announce a date and opponent in mid-January.