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And so it begins – Endeavor buys nine minor league clubs, including all of the Braves affiliates

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

-Clint Manry

We knew it was coming, but I’m not sure we knew this was on its way. According to Baseball America on Wednesday, Endeavor Group Holdings purchased all four of the Braves minor league affiliates (Triple-A Gwinnett, Double-A Mississippi, High-A Rome and Single-A Augusta). It’s the beginning of what’s slated to be a massive investment into minor league baseball by the company.

With its newly-formed subsidiary, named Diamond Baseball Holdings, Endeavor also bought five other minor league clubs on Wednesday, bringing its total to nine for the day:

  • AAA Gwinnett (ATL)
  • AA Mississippi (ATL)
  • A+ Rome (ATL)
  • A Augusta (ATL
  • AAA Iowa (CHC)
  • AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY)
  • AAA Memphis (STL)
  • A+ Hudson Valley (NYY)
  • A San Jose (SFG)

Evidently the initial reporting was accurate. Endeavor appears to be interested in the most storied franchises in baseball, given the Braves, Cubs, Yankees and Giants are all what you’d call “cornerstone” organizations. And, as we were told last week, the company isn’t close to being done. Per BA’s report today, Diamond Baseball is “in the late stages of negotiations to purchase a handful of other significant franchises that it expects to announce in due course” (which, according to Baseball Digest, feature both the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers and the Double-A Springfield Cardinals).

Diamond Baseball is now the largest single owner of minor league teams, given just a year ago (before MLB took over) the rules prevented anyone from owning multiple clubs in a league. With MLB now running the show, things are, and will be, much different.

Which brings us to the future of minor league baseball: According to Baseball Digest’s reporting on the topic, the general belief is that there really isn’t any point for big league franchises to hold onto its minor league clubs. Given MLB now completely controls MiLB, the league can monetize its affiliates, just like any other asset. No more dealing with some type of minor league ownership, MLB franchises can literally make money off what it has, and there’s absolutely no risk considering the league literally runs the minors anyways.

The only thing I’m concerned about is what happens (affiliate-wise) to these teams as they’re purchased. Per BD, it appears all the clubs that were bought today will remain affiliated with its current MLB franchise. But will that continue to be the case? In terms of the overall layout of the minors as it is today, how much will ultimately change?

All-in-all, I believe this will be a good thing for minor league baseball in the long-term, if for no other reason that it certainly couldn’t get any worse and because things have began to improve (with pay increases and mandatory housing). But we’ll see what happens. I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.

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