A report suggests that Major League Baseball is tweaking their limitation on domestic minor-league players in a way that should aid the SF Giants.
According to a report by Baseball America’s JJ Cooper (subscription required), Major League Baseball will be limiting teams to 180 domestic minor-league players in 2021 and beyond. The restriction would place some obvious limits on MLB teams, like the SF Giants, in their approaches to player development. A 180 player cap is actually an expansion of the league’s reported earlier intention to restrict teams to 150 domestic minor-league players.
Had the domestic minor-league player cap remained at 150, teams would have been forced to only have one team at the Arizona Rookie League. The Giants have been one of a few organizations to field two rookie-level teams.
Since minor-league contraction will already eliminate the Short-Season, Low-A level, the Giants would have essentially lost 50 minor-league roster sports. Assuming the cap is set at 180, teams could still field two rookie-ball teams, lessening the blow to their player development apparatus.
Cooper has been leading the coverage of MLB’s contraction and reform of the minor-league system for more than two years now. As the league takes control of the minor leagues away from team owners and dissolves Minor League Baseball’s independence, franchises have faced a lot of uncertainty surrounding their future.
The Giants have already lost one minor-league affiliate in the reshuffling and still might have to find a new partner in the Northwest League as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes future remains uncertain. Given the improved state of the Giants farm system over the past couple of years, the organization would obviously like to maintain as much status quo as possible. It will be easier with a 180 domestic minor-league player cap.
There is still plenty of time for Major League Baseball to change course before the start of the 2021 season. However, if the domestic minor-league cap is at 180 instead of 150, it will create much more flexibility for teams like the SF Giants to maintain more of their player development system.