MLB says it is committed to protecting minor league teams

Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the Major League Baseball winter meetings Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Major League Baseball said Saturday it is committed to protecting minor league teams, a day after U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal warned of possible congressional action if the organization followed through on minor league contraction plans.

"It is not Major League Baseball's goal to eliminate any club in these negotiations, and MLB currently has a plan for every club to continue operations with some level of support," Major League Baseball said in a written statement.

MLB has proposed a contraction plan that could end minor league baseball at Dodd Stadium in Norwich, Connecticut, and ballparks across the nation by eliminating its affiliation with 42 teams. The Norwich Sea Unicorns — formerly the Connecticut Tigers — play in the Class A New York-Penn League.

On Friday, Blumenthal, who represents Connecticut, urged Major League Baseball to save the team.

In a letter to Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr., the Democratic senator said that if MLB "turns its back" on communities like Norwich, Congress "must look at appropriate remedies, including removing Major League Baseball's anti-trust exemption."

Major League Baseball said that its goal is to improve pay and working conditions for minor leaguers, and that it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the past decade to subsidize minor league operations.

"However, minor league baseball owners have refused to bear any portion of the contemplated cost increases for improving facilities, working conditions and pay," the MLB said. "Instead, they've indicated that they would prefer to simply eliminate franchises."

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