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Major League Baseball Looking To Eliminate 42 Minor League Franchises

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

FISHKILL – The area’s professional baseball team, the short-season minor league Hudson Valley Renegades, appear to be safe from a proposed plan by Major League Baseball to eliminate more than three dozen teams.

Both the New York Times and New York Daily News reported over the weekend a detailed plan by MLB to contract 42 minor league franchises, all of them in the Rookie, Short-Season Class A and Single-A divisions. Ostensibly, the contraction plan is a way to streamline minor league baseball at its lowest levels to better develop promising prospects – and to save money for their respective parent teams.

The proposed plan is for when the current Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) expires at the end of the 2020 season.

The Renegades, who have been in existence in the Hudson Valley for 26 years, are a farm team of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and compete in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League, playing 76 total games per season.

“As far as minor league baseball is concerned, we’re in the first inning of a nine-inning negotiation,” said Jeff Goldklang, president of the Renegades’ ownership group, The Goldklang Group, told HVSR. “I am fairly confident that whatever comes out the negotiations, I have a sense that what has been reported now probably won’t look like what will eventually occur.”

Goldklang said he could not discuss any directive the Renegades may or may not have received, mostly because he, like the majority of the baseball community from owners to fans, are still processing the news.

“We have not participated in any conversations. We learned about the list about the same time the rest of baseball did,” he said. “What I can say is, the Renegades are fine in terms of what has been proposed and that in 2020 it’s business as usual.”

Of the 14 teams in the NY-P League, the Renegades have consistently finished in the top three in attendance for the 26 years they have been in existence. In 2019, they averaged almost 4,200 fans per game, second in the league to the Brooklyn Cyclones, an affiliate of the New York Mets that averaged more than 4,800 fans per game. The Renegades have also made vast improvements to Dutchess Stadium over the last several years, including a new turf field and new seating.

Yet it doesn’t appear that attendance or improvements make much of a difference in which teams are on the hit list for contraction. The Lowell Spinners, for instance, installed new high-grade LED lighting system and new turf over the past few years at LeLacheur Park, and the franchise is still on the list for proposed contraction.

The 42 teams on the list to be divorced from MLB parent clubs would become independent teams and be invited to join a so-called “Dream League” with rosters filled by undrafted and released players. But without major league affiliation, and the idea of watching players at the beginning of their careers progress through the system, a team’s brand and market value decreases significantly.

“In 2021, when all this is supposed to take place, I am confident that our fans will see the same typical baseball by the Hudson Valley Renegades,” Goldklang said.

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