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Major League Baseball Officially Announces Professional Development League

Major League Baseball officially announced on Friday that all 120 Minor League clubs that were offered invitations to become Professional Development League (PDL) affiliates/license holders have accepted their invitations. While the reduction of Minor League Affiliates occurred and Clubs announced their affiliates a few months ago, the PDL agreement and licenses became official on Friday.

The PDL is a “new model, which not only provides a pipeline to the Major Leagues, but continues the Minor League tradition of entertaining millions of families in hundreds of communities,” stated Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred Jr.

Changes that are occurring with Minor League Baseball now becoming a Professional Development League under Major League Baseball will include: Player salaries increasing from 38-72 percent for the 2021 season, Modernized facility standards that must be upheld by each organization, Improved amenities and working conditions at minor league (PDL) complexes, Better (closer) geographical alignment to the Major League parent club, which will in turn allow for reduced in-season travel PDL players and staff.

Elaborating on the modernized facility standards, MLB cut a number of the teams they did due to facilities. That was one of the factors that was taken into account when Major League Baseball was working with teams to determine who their Minor League affiliates would be.

Major League Baseball’s Professional Development League, in full, includes 209 teams across 19 different leagues; However, only 120 of those 209 teams are affiliated to Major League teams.

How This Affects The New York Yankees and their Minor League Affiliations

The Yankees announced their Minor League affiliates back in November  and there were changes in affiliates and levels when teams were assigned and sent their PDL invitations. As part of the change in Minor League structure, New York was forced to reduce the number of teams they had in their minor league system from ten teams to 6.

The Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate will remain the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. Scranton served as the 2020 “alternate site” as the team’s satellite location. Scranton will keep their Triple-A affiliation.

One change occurring as a result of the PDL agreement is the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate. The Yankees’ former Double-A affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, are no longer affiliated with the organization. The Yankees welcomed the Somerset Patriots in New Jersey to the Yankees’ family as their Double-A affiliate heading into the 2021 season.

The Yankees also parted ways with the Staten Island Yankees, their former Short-Season affiliate.

The Yankees have welcomed the Hudson Valley Renegades as their new High-A affiliate going forward into the 2021 season.

One team remaining a Yankees’ affiliate, but shifting levels, is the Yankees’ former High-A affiliate Tampa Tarpons. Tampa will now become the Yankees’ Low Single-A affiliate, replacing the Charleston RiverDogs (now a Rays’ affiliate).

Tampa will also continue to host the Gulf Coast League Yankees, who train across the street from the Tarpons at the Yankees’ Player Development Complex.

The Dominican Summer League will also be remaining affiliated with the Yankees in 2021.

“Restructuring our minor league affiliations – especially with the additions of Somerset and Hudson Valley – gives us greater continuity to streamline and improve the development of our minor league system,” stated Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Cashman in November.

As Spring Training gets ready to ramp up, so too will the Yankees’ new Minor League affiliates. It is expected that Major League and Triple-A teams will report this week, and Double-A and Single-A will begin their Spring Trainings upon the departure of the Major League and Triple-A teams. This new structure of a split Spring Training is in making sure the players, coaches, and staffs can all stay safe amidst the continuation of COVID-19 as baseball tries to get back to some kind of “normalcy” in 2021.

We are just two days away from Yankees pitchers and catchers reporting with their first workout being held on Wednesday. Position players will report on February 21 with the first full team workout of Spring occurring on February 22.

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