Explaining The Rules Of A Professional Baseball Agreement Ratification Vote
There are 48 days until the current Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball expires.
Much work remains to be done by both sides if there is to be an agreement on a new PBA. But assuming a deal is reached, it will still have to be ratified by minor league and major league team owners.
On the minor league side, ratification is a complicated process. There would be a weighted vote by league, as spelled out in the National Association Agreement (NAA). A three-fourths majority is required to pass any new PBA.
In Baseball America’s conversations over the past few months, many industry professionals said they are not aware of exactly how that process works.
So with the help of the NAA, here is the procedure for how a new PBA would need to be approved by minor league teams.
Votes would be cast on a league-by-league basis, but the number of votes each league gets to cast depends on its level of classification. The higher the level, the more votes it receives.
Triple-A: (International and Pacific Coast) 6 votes apiece. Total of 12 votes
Double-A: (Eastern, Southern and Texas Leagues) 3 votes apiece. Total of 9 votes
Class A: (California, Carolina, Florida State, Midwest and South Atlantic) 2 votes apiece. Total of 10 votes
Short-Season/Rookie: (Appalachian, Gulf Coast, New York-Penn, Northwest and Pioneer) 1 vote apiece. Total of 5 votes.
That is a total of 36 votes. Passage requires 27 of those 36 votes.
The Arizona League is not represented while the Gulf Coast League, which has a similar setup of being a complex league that is entirely MLB-owned and does not charge admission, is represented on the Board of Trustees and does have a PBA vote. We are working to get a full explanation for why that is the case, but the best answer we have come up with is the simplest one: the Gulf Coast League was established in the mid-1960s just after the reorganization of the minors. The Arizona League was not established until the 1980s, and as such was set up long after MiLB’s current governance had been established.
With 12 of the 36 votes if Triple-A voted as a bloc—with both the Pacific Coast League and International League casting matching votes—its 12 votes would be sufficient to veto any proposal.
If just one of the two Triple-A leagues votes against a proposal and there are any two other "No" votes, i.e. two short-season/rookie leagues or any one higher-level league, it would again be enough to nix a proposal.
Even if all Double-A and Triple-A leagues voted together to approve a new PBA, they would still require six additional votes to get a PBA approved.
If there is a PBA proposal that reaches the point of a ratification vote, it will require some level of support at various levels of the minor leagues.