After 13 years, Minor League Baseball President Pat O’Conner will retire at the end of the year. According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, there’s a chance the position of MiLB President will be eliminated entirely as MLB takes control of the minor leagues.
MiLB announces President/CEO Pat O'Conner will retire. pic.twitter.com/6mKmSQUiHL— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) September 8, 2020
MLB and MiLB are currently negotiating a new Professional Baseball Agreement which will almost certainly come with radical realignment and contraction of the minors. In a proposal last week, MLB plans to take over merchandising, sponsorship, and broadcast rights of the minors while cutting 40+ teams and eliminating rookie and short-season leagues.
In ESPN’s report, O’Conner was criticized by some minor league owners for caring more about his own job than protecting the minor leagues. Not all owners felt this way about the president. One owner said that O’Conner was being scapegoated and another said that “[MLB is] doing to us what they do to the major and minor league players: pitting us against each other.”
O’Conner’s sudden retirement only confirms the report that negotiations are grim for the minor leagues. If there was any shred of hope remaining that MLB wouldn’t sever affiliation with dozens of teams, it’s gone now. It’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’ the axe will fall.
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