ROSEMONT, ILL., DEC. 2 -- Negotiators for Major League Baseball announced today they believe they have reached an agreement in principle with the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL) on the terms of a new contract to determine major league teams' basic relationships with their minor league affiliates.
It was not exactly clear where the NAPBL, the minor leagues' governing body, stands on the proposal, but Bill Murray, the Major Leagues' director of operations and chief negotiator, said: "We think we have terms and language that is acceptable to us and to their group."
A ratified contract would supersede the one that will expire next month and save the 89-year arrangement between the majors and minors that the majors have been threatening to replace with an in-house farm system.
The term of the contract would be seven years, with either side able to call for renegotiation of any provision after four years. A year's notice would be needed. So, the proposed agreement would last at least through the '94 season, and renegotiation could not be proposed until after the '93 season.
As the NAPBL continued to meet in Los Angeles, Murray, Pittsburgh Pirates President Carl Barger and attorney Frank Casey spent the afternoon briefing major league general managers and farm directors on the terms of an agreement Barger said "is not a full loaf to either side, but is something that represents a fair illustration of give and take."
He said the majors began the negotiations in July with the idea of cutting expenditures in their farm systems. Instead, Casey said, the average major league team with six minor league affiliates would have to spend at least $50,000 a year more on those systems, and "it could be a good bit more."
Under the proposal, major league teams would pick up such currently shared expenses as Class AAA salaries, meal money (which would be increased), uniforms and equipment. The major leagues also would pay all expenses associated with minor league umpires, except local travel and hotel costs, and would "substantially" increase minor league umpires' salaries, Casey said. In addition, the major leagues would pay for the compilation and distribution of official statistics and the inspection of minor league facilities.
In exchange, the NAPBL would become involved in a revenue-sharing system. It would pay the Major League central fund a flat fee of $750,000 in 1991. Subsequent payments would be determined by a formula that would result in minimum payments of $1.5 million in '92, $1.75 million in '93 and $2 million in '94.
Also, the amount of travel and hotel expenses that would be paid by minor league clubs would increase gradually.
A joint licensing program would guarantee the NAPBL $2.8 million from Major League Baseball Properties over the first four years of the agreement.
Other main points of the proposal include: A set of rules governing the transfer of minor league teams under which the major league commissioner would become involved only if there is a dispute about whether certain ownership criteria are being met. As would be the case with any other dispute the commissioner is to serve in an appellate function, taking into consideration the interests of the minors and the majors. Slight cuts in minor league schedules, beginning in 1993. An increase in the number of minor league teams that the major leagues would guarantee to support from 78 to 119. The immediate impact of this would be assured financial backing for minor league clubs that have been independent.The NAPBL relinquishing its ability to unilaterally expand minor league territorial rights that the major leagues must honor.
Notes: The Angels and Blue Jays completed the meetings' first trade tonight with the Angels sending outfielder Devon White, pitcher Willie Fraser and a minor league player to be named later to Toronto for outfielder Junior Felix, infielder Luis Sojo and a minor league player to be named later.