MiLB Puts In Place Third Negotiating Team In Two Weeks

Image credit: Pat O'Conner

With 45 days remaining until the expiration of the current Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, MiLB has put in place its third negotiating team in two weeks.

On Aug. 17, MiLB President and CEO Pat O’Conner approved the new negotiating team proposed by the MiLB Board of Trustees, but also added Durham Bulls owner Jim Goodman to the five-man group.

The addition of a well-liked, successful Triple-A owner is likely to not ruffle many owners’ feathers. O‘Conner also added George Yund, MiLB’s chief outside counsel, as the committee’s legal counsel.

The new MiLB team contains several familiar names to MLB’s negotiators. Tom Volpe (owner of the Stockton Ports), Marv Goldklang (owner of the Hudson Valley Renegades and Charleston RiverDogs) and D.G. Elmore (the Elmore Sports Group owns teams at a variety of levels) were all on the negotiating committee disbanded by O’Conner two weeks ago. 

Elmore was also part of the transition committee O’Conner tapped to replace the first team. 

The Board of Trustees added Great Lakes Loons owner William Stavropoulos and Winston-Salem Dash owner Billy Prim.

Overall, the differing MiLB factions have managed to circumvent the potential power struggles over control of the negotiations and put together a well-respected team to return to the negotiating table with MLB.


But those tensions do remain. 

O’Conner’s interests in the negotiations, which include preservation of the independence of MiLB from MLB, do not necessarily align with the majority of minor league team owners, who are more interested in long-term stability and franchise valuation appreciation. O’Conner has made it clear that he retains control over the negotiations.

O’Conner disbanded the original negotiating committee Aug. 3 and replaced it with a transition committee. Soon after the transition committee was named as MiLB’s negotiating team, MiLB sent a new proposal to MLB. 

In its initial response acknowledging receipt of the proposal, MLB acknowledged MiLB’s right to change its representation, but also expressed its regret that it would no longer be working with a group it had spent significant time negotiating with over the past months.

On Aug. 11, the MiLB Board of Trustees put together a new negotiating team—a clear sign of its disagreement with O’Conner’s team. The Board of Trustees did, however, acknowledge O’Conner’s rights under the National Association Agreement to select the negotiating team. As such, the Board of Trustees sent the group to O’Conner for approval.

MLB and MiLB’s negotiators last met officially on April 22. There have been conversations between the two sides since then, and there is an expectation that at some point MLB will lay out a more detailed version of its proposals for an agreement between the majors and minors for 2021 and beyond. 

MLB also will need to lay out its plans for the 120 remaining affiliated teams, as well as its plans for realignment of the minors.

It took six days after the nomination for O’Conner to approve the group, albeit with his tweaks. The big question now—when will MLB and MiLB meet again?

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