It's complicated. The article says:
- Forty-two of the 160 minor league teams (26%) guaranteed under the present, expiring Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and minors will be eliminated, most of them from the four short season Rookie Leagues — the New York-Penn, Appalachian, Northwest and Pioneer.
But...the NY-Penn and Northwest Leagues aren't "Rookie Leagues" - they're Summer Class A, which is a tier above the Rookie Leagues. It's not clear to me exactly which teams are targeted - but it looks like the current 160 clubs guaranteed under the PBA do not include the "complex leagues" - the Arizona League and the GCL. There are exactly 160 franchises total, in the AA, AA, A+, A, SA, and the two non-complex Rookie Leagues.
This makes sense to me, since the complex teams aren't necessarily included in the Professional Baseball Agreement (they're not independently owned).
The article says they're going to eliminate 42 franchises - this would leave them with 118. That is interesting - because it's two franchises LESS than would be necessary to give each organization one franchise in each of the four full-season levels. Two clubs are abandoning a single-A franchise?
The article does not indicate that complex teams will be eliminated. It says:
- With the elimination of the four Rookie Leagues, there will be a limit of 150 players each organization can have in its minor league system among teams at Triple-A, Double-A, High A, Low A and their minor league “complex” teams.
The article also says that three NY-Penn franchises are being "upgraded" to full-season class A - Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and one other (probably Tri-City, based on 2019 attendance). If they're going to eliminate the 18 non-complex Rookie clubs, and 19 Summer-A clubs, but 42 total, that means that five clubs from higher levels (Single-A?) are also being targeted. I'd love to see the full list.
At some level, I can understand the inclination to eliminate short-season leagues outside the complexes (Florida and Arizona) - particularly if they're going to push the draft back to August, and reduce the number of kids under contract. The development strategy thus becomes to hold new players in the complexes until they're ready for Single-A. What's not clear is how MLB will integrate players who aren't drafted, but who demonstrate in independent leagues (amateur or professional) that they have value. Will signing of UDFAs be permitted at all? Will it be permitted if a club clears a "150 man roster" spot to make room for such a signing?