The membership of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL) yesterday narrowly voted to approve a new Professional Baseball Agreement, the contract that determines the basic relationship between major league teams and their farm teams.
The contract is for seven years, with either side able to call for renegotiation of any provision after four years as long it gives a year's notice. Major league owners approved the deal Tuesday.
Yesterday's vote officially ends a bitter negotiation between the NAPBL, the minors' governing body, and Major League Baseball and preserves their 89-year-old relationship -- one the majors had been threatening to replace with an in-house farm system.
The minors' lingering ill feelings were reflected in a 27-9 vote that precisely met the NAPBL's requirement for at least 75 percent approval. The voting is weighted so that the three Class AAA leagues each get four votes, the three Class AA leagues each get three votes, the five full-season Class A leagues each get two votes and the five short-season Class A and rookie leagues each get one vote. Each league's vote was determined by a majority vote of its members.
NAPBL President Sal Artiaga declined to reveal how each of the leagues voted, but sources said the Class AAA American Association, Class AA Southern League and Class A Carolina League voted against the new contract, and many of the leagues that voted to approve did so by narrow margins.
"The vote sends a message of the membership's mood of concern and caution," Artiaga said. "We used to have more of a partnership. What we have now is a business relationship."
The majors are picking up some previously shared expenses, but the minors are losing $1.8 million in TV money and being forced to participate in a revenue sharing system that will guarantee the majors $750,000 in 1991, and minimums of $1.5 million in '92, $1.75 million in '93 and $2 million in '94.
According to major league officials, the average major league team with six minor league affiliates will have to spend at least $50,000 a year more on its farm system under the new contract. But Artiaga said minor league teams will lose a total of $5 million a year because of it.
In other baseball developments yesterday, Jim Ronstadt, the director of Tucson's parks and recreation department, said he has contacted the Orioles about the possibility of them moving their spring training site there. But Orioles senior vice president Tom Daffron said the club remains hopeful it can reconstruct its deal for a site in Naples, Fla., and so far has given no consideration to a site outside Florida. Tucson formed a baseball task force after the Indians announced they want to move their camp to Citrus County, Fla., in 1993.
The Cardinals signed free-agent first baseman Gerald Perry to a three-year, $3.3 million contract, and the Mets signed free-agent outfielder Terry Puhl for a year. Perry had been with the Royals. Puhl, who had been with the Astros 14 years, is guaranteed $100,000.