Peter Freund, owner of two MiLB teams and a partner with the New York Yankees, has been enlisted by Major League Baseball to help navigate issues as MLB takes over control of Minor League Baseball and address the challenges created by contraction to 120 affiliates.
Besides the Yankees connection, Freund owns the Williamsport Crosscutters (Short Season A; NY-Penn League), has majority control of the Memphis Redbirds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and a minority share of the Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League). He’s also the owner of Memphis 901 FC, a USL Championship team.
According to an MLB press release, Freund will work with the Office of the Commissioner to help develop the framework for a “more cohesive and efficient model for the development of players in all the MLB licensed markets around the country.” The MLB rationale for taking control of Minor League Baseball has been stated repeatedly: less travel times for teams, better facilities for players, and a more modern approach to player development. The MLB takeover is also overhauling the business relationship between MLB and MiLB teams, transitioning from a franchise model to a licensing model.
“Minor League Baseball is part of the fabric of so many communities and integral to the development of both players and fans of this great game,” Freund said in a press statement. “This truly is a watershed moment for professional baseball and we have a unique opportunity to find common sense solutions which benefit both Major League Clubs and their Minor League partners.”
“As we look to grow the partnership between Major League Baseball and its licensed affiliates and share our resources, it has always been our intention to have Minor League ownership partner with us in shaping the future of Minor League Baseball,” said Dan Halem, MLB’s Deputy Commissioner & Chief Legal Officer, via press release: “Peter’s reputation and experience in the industry make him exceptionally well suited to assist us in transitioning to a Minor League system that will better serve Minor League fans, Minor League players, Minor League owners, and our Major League clubs.”
The transition to the new system has already borne one result of the Appalachian League moving from a pro Rookie league to a summer-collegiate league run in conjunction with MLB and USA Baseball. The announcement for this was made a week ago, but many of the specifics still need to be worked out among all parties involved, we’re told; the announcement was clearly made before the business model was finalized. Similarly, the fate of the Pioneer League has yet to be determined. After that, we expect more clarity with the reorganization of the short season and full season leagues.
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