The Atlantic League has been designated the first MLB Partner League, extending the independent circuit’s relationship in terms of rules testing into areas like joint marketing and promotional opportunities.
Prior to the 2019 season, MLB and the Atlantic League announced a three-year agreement that calls for the independent circuit to serve as a testing ground for various rule and equipment changes being explored by MLB. A number of ideas were tested in the Atlantic League as a result of that agreement, though some, like the implementation of Trackman automated ball-strike (ABS) technology, came under heavy criticism. In addition, the Atlantic League tested rules limiting defensive shifting, mound visits, shortening inning breaks, and larger bases, while others, like moving the mound two feet farther from the plate, were postponed.
The new deal, which runs through the 2023 season, extends the agreement to test technology and rule changes on independent players, rather than MILB players under MLB contracts. It also calls for what the Atlantic League calls a “shared goal of providing baseball to communities throughout the United States.” What that means in actual practice, however, has not been announced by either side.
“We are excited to extend our relationship with the Atlantic League, which provides us a unique means to push the sport forward.” said Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, in a press statement. “The Atlantic League clubs and players have been great partners to us as we jointly test ways to make our game even more interesting and engaging to fans.”
“The Atlantic League is inspired by the evolution of its relationship with Major League Baseball and thrilled to be named their first Partner League,” said ALPB President Rick White, in a press statement. “We value MLB’s confidence in ALPB and look forward to advancing our sport together.”
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