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Rob Manfred meets with Bernie Sanders to discuss possible contraction of minor league teams


Last month, we learned that Major League Baseball was working to reorganize the minor leagues which would involve cutting 42 teams, mostly in short-season and rookie ball. The news made the rounds, including drawing attention from Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, which then prompted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to take notice and make a comment:

As a result, 100 members of Congress sent MLB a letter urging the league to reconsider. Shortly thereafter, the league issued a statement outlining its reasoning behind wanting to shrink the minor leagues. It listed four reasons: inadequate facilities, travel logistics, poor pay for minor leaguers, and upkeep for players who theoretically have a zero percent chance to ever make it to the major leagues. If you seek analysis of those claims, I went over each of the reasons in depth, highlighting the league’s specious and hypocritical logic.

MLB issued another press release on Monday evening, saying that Manfred and Sanders had “a productive meeting.” The statement read:

MLB fully recognizes the importance of professional baseball to communities throughout the United States without a Major League team and, as our national pastime, appreciates the support of the tens of millions of fans in our country. MLB also understands that we have an obligation to local communities to ensure that public money spent on Minor League stadiums is done so prudently and for the benefit of all citizens.

MLB also must ensure that Minor League players have safe playing facilities suitable for the development of professional baseball players, are not subjected to unreasonable travel demands, are provided with compensation and working conditions appropriate for elite athletes, and have a realistic opportunity of making it to the Major Leagues.

MLB is committed to negotiating with Minor League Baseball to find solutions that balance the competing interests of local communities, MLB Clubs, Minor League owners, and the young players who pursue their dream of becoming professional baseball players. We repeatedly have stated both publicly and privately to the Minor Leagues that whatever the outcome of the negotiations, MLB will offer every community that currently hosts professional baseball options to preserve baseball in a viable, fan-friendly, compelling format with the full support of MLB. We remain confident that solutions can be reached that satisfy the interests of all stakeholders.

The statement is simply a rehashing of those four points the league spoke about previously. Nothing new, just typical P.R. speak and a vague promise to offer “options to preserve baseball,” which is ambiguous enough to mean “not necessarily in its current form.”

Sanders, who has long been and still is fervently pro-labor, and Manfred stand on opposite sides on this issue. That nobody was converted during Monday’s meeting should come as no surprise.

Update: Here is what Sanders said about the meeting, via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:

Luis Urías to miss six to eight weeks with fractured hamate bone

Luis Urías
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Robert Murray reports that Brewers infielder Luis Urías underwent surgery to repair a fractured left hamate bone, suffered during a game in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. The club expects him to miss six to eight weeks, which likely means he will not start the regular season on time.

The Brewers acquired Urías from the Padres along with pitcher Eric Lauer in late November in exchange for pitcher Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham.

Last season with the Padres, Urías hit .223/.329/.326 across 249 plate appearances. While his offense isn’t anything to write home about, he does play above-average defense with the ability to play several positions.

Urías was slated to be the regular shortstop, so his late start likely means Orlando Arcia will get another chance to prove himself. Arcia has failed to live up to expectations across four seasons in the big leagues thus far.