Friday, July 8, 2011

Understanding Player Development Contracts

Minor League Baseball is a governing body for independent pro baseball leagues, with teams in cities and towns across the United States and Canada. All MiLB leagues are owned and operated individually, but with the expection of the AAA Mexican League, every team is tied back to MLB with a Player Development Contract (PDC). This contract creates a relationship between the two clubs to supply players to one another for a pre-set period of time, usually two to four years. Some MLB teams like the Atlanta Braves prefer to own their affiliates. The parent club pays for personnel (players and coaches) and some equipment costs, and the minor league club pays for most other operational needs from its own budget. The Blue Wahoo's will never control what is happening on the field.
The Philadelphia Phillies and Reading Phillies began their partnership in 1967. Its tied for the longest continuing PDC in Minor League Baseball. What are some of the reasons for this extending relationship ? The first thing its based on geography. The Phillies can call up a player from Reading or send a injured Phillie's player for a rehab game in Reading in less then two hours by car. The second element is that MLB teams love teams that show some sort of commitment to updating stadium facilities every two to three years.  The main reasons the Padres left Mobile was due to the lack of training facilities along with a desire to be closer to San Diego. When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed a PDC with Mobile in 2006, part of the agreement was that the Baybears would build a cover batting cage along with updating the clubhouse.  Finally, the Minor League team can request a new team for reasons ranging from the team never being sent top prospects or the MLB team being estranged. This was how the  Blue Jays ended up in Las Vegas. The Syracuse Chiefs of the International League severed ties with Toronto after 31 years in 2008. In 31 years at Syracuse, the Chiefs had 23 losing seasons, including their last eight. Sometimes when PDC expire, a Minor League team can't find a team on their own and MLB along Minor League Baseball will appoint a MLB team to a Minor League team.
In the coming years, you are going to hear all kind of  rumors about changes with the Wahoo's. Ignore them up until you hear the ownership addressing the potential changes.  Over the course of eight years, I heard many times that the Yankees and Cubs were signing a PDC with Mobile based on the fact that many Yankee and Cub executives own condo's in Gulf Shores, Alabama and have businesses in Biloxi, Mississippi. It never really made sense. However, my personal preference is for a PDC to be changed every 4 years. For me, it allows me to get autographs from a new organization that I usually only get to see for a day or two in Spring Training.

Here is the current PDC chart for AA baseball:

Eastern League (AA)

Akron Aeros - Cleveland (signed through 2012)
Altoona Curve - Pittsburgh (signed through 2014)
Binghamton Mets - New York (NL) (signed through 2012)
Bowie Baysox - Baltimore (signed through 2014)
Erie SeaWolves - Detroit (signed through 2012)
Harrisburg Senators - Washington (signed through 2012)
New Britain Rock Cats - Minnesota (signed through 2012)
New Hampshire Fisher Cats - Toronto (signed through 2012)
Portland Sea Dogs - Boston (signed through 2014)
Reading Phillies - Philadelphia (signed through 2014; owned by Philadelphia)
Richmond Flying Squirrels - San Francisco (signed through 2012)
Trenton Thunder - New York (AL) (signed through 2014)

Southern League (AA)

Birmingham Barons - Chicago (AL) (signed through 2014)
Carolina Mudcats - Cincinnati (signed through 2012) ( Pensacola Blue Wahoo's)
Chattanooga Lookouts - Los Angeles (signed through 2014)
Huntsville Stars - Milwaukee (signed through 2012)
Jackson Generals - Seattle (signed through 2012)
Jacksonville Suns - Florida (signed through 2012)
Mississippi Braves - Atlanta (owned by Atlanta)
Mobile BayBears - Arizona (signed through 2012)
Montgomery Biscuits - Tampa Bay (signed through 2014)
Tennessee Smokies - Chicago (NL) (signed through 2014)

Texas League (AA)

Arkansas Travelers - Anaheim (signed through 2012)
Corpus Christi Hooks - Houston (signed through 2016)
Frisco RoughRiders - Texas (signed through 2014; owned by Texas)
Midland RockHounds - Oakland (signed through 2012)
Northwest Arkansas Naturals - Kansas City (signed through 2012)
San Antonio Missions - San Diego (signed through 2012)
Springfield Cardinals - St. Louis (owned by St. Louis)
Tulsa Drillers - Colorado (signed through 2014)

Here is my personally wants after 2012 for the Southern League season:

Southern League (AA)

Birmingham Barons - Chicago (AL)
Pensacola Blue Wahoo- Cincinnati
Chattanooga Lookouts - Los Angeles
Huntsville Stars - San Francisco
Jackson Generals - Kansas City
Jacksonville Suns - Florida
Mississippi Braves - Atlanta
Mobile BayBears - Milwaukee
Montgomery Biscuits - Tampa Bay
Tennessee Smokies - Chicago (NL)

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