Major league baseball is proposing cutting more than 40 minor league franchises for the 2021 season, according to a report by Baseball America. If the cuts go through as major league baseball envisions, two Pirates affiliates would be on the chopping block.
The proposal would keep the Triple-A, Double-A, high class A and low class A franchises across baseball, but eliminate the non-complex short season and rookie level leagues. The Pirates would have two teams implicated if the cuts went through as planned: Their short season A-level club, the West Virginia Black Bears, and their Rookie Advanced League team, the Bristol Pirates.
The Pirates' other rookie level team, the Gulf Coast League Pirates, would be safe because they play at the Pirate City Complex. Their two DSL clubs would not be affected by these cuts.
West Virginia has been an affiliate of the Pirates since 2015. They played in Jamestown, New York and went by the Jammers before then. The Pirates have had a short season A-level team every year since 1983.
The Bristol Pirates were acquired in October, 2013. It was the first time since 1989 that the Pirates had multiple rookie level franchises in their farm system.
According to Baseball America, MLB believes roughly one-fourth of minor-league teams do not have adequate facilities for minor-league players. If MiLB cannot guarantee to reach what MLB deems are acceptable standards, they will cut the clubs that fail to meet their expectations.
They would also move the draft back from June to August, effectively eliminating the need for short season leagues.
Baseball America said the proposal was described as a "preliminary offering subject to alteration." The Professional Baseball Agreement between the MLB and the minor league teams expires at the end of the 2020 season.