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Major Leagues, Minors Near Pact : Baseball: Expected ratification of contract would head off a massive restructuring of minor leagues where profits and subsidies have been at issue.

From Associated Press

A contract between baseball’s major leagues and the National Assn. is expected to be ratified within 10 days, avoiding a massive restructuring of the minor leagues.

Negotiators for the major league owners outlined their latest contract offer at the winter meetings on Sunday and said only some language needed to be ironed out. They said an agreement had been reached on all the major points of the contract and knew of no area where key differences remained.

Failure to reach an agreement by Dec. 15 would have resulted in a total restructuring of the current minor league system. The major leagues had planned to move most of their minor league operations to the site of their spring training complexes in Florida and Arizona.

Originally, major league owners argued they are paying too much to subsidize minor league clubs, which they have contested are making huge profits.

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However, under the new agreement the major league clubs will actually spend more on their minor league operations--a minimum of $50,000 a year--but in exchange gain more control. The clubs estimate they spend about $6.5 million a season on the minors.

“We tried to take a look at the old system we had and tried to simplify it,” said Bill Murray, the owners’ chief negotiator.

Under the proposed contract, in 1991 and 1992 the minor league clubs will pay travel and hotel expenses for 28 Triple-AAA players and 27 Double-A. In 1993 and 1994, minor league clubs will pay travel and hotel costs for 30 players at all levels.

The major league clubs have agreed to pay all minor league player contracts, meal money, equipment, umpires (including salary increases), statistical services and inspection of minor league contracts. The meal money will be increased by $4 a day in the first year of the contract.

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In an effort to offset the major league clubs’ expenses, the minors have agreed to revenue sharing. The formula would be about 5% of the net profit by the minor league teams.


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