Red Sox

A Mass. politician is fighting MLB’s proposal to split the Lowell Spinners from the Red Sox

Representative Lori Trahan is part of a bipartisan effort trying to block a new proposal legislators say would "devastate our communities."

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, speaks to delegates during the 2019 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Springfield, Mass. AP Photo/Jessica Hill

In the wake of a new proposal from Major League Baseball to cut down its minor league system, a U.S. representative from Massachusetts is trying to help lead a bipartisan response.

The MLB proposal, which first became known in October, would cut the Major League affiliation with 42 minor league teams (out of 160 in total). The teams in question would become independent after the current Professional Baseball Agreement between MLB and MiLB expires in 2020, and possibly join the Dream League (with rosters composed of un-drafted players and free agents). Among the teams affected would be the Lowell Spinners, according to a Boston Globe report.

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Currently, the Spinners are a Class-A Red Sox affiliate, helping to groom players in Boston’s minor league system. The team plays games at Edward A. LeLachuer Park in Lowell. The Red Sox currently cover major costs, including player and coaching salaries.

The prospect of losing Major League affiliation has been seen as a threat to the ongoing business survival of many of the 42 teams, helping to spur a political action.

Representatives Lori Trahan of Massachusetts and David McKinley of West Virginia — along 104 of their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives — sent a letter to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred (as well as all 30 teams) stating their case that the proposal be avoided.

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“We are writing to express our firm opposition to Major League Baseball’s radical proposal to eliminate numerous Minor League Baseball clubs,” the representatives wrote in the letter.

Trahan, a Democrat (and Lowell native) represents Massachusetts’s 3rd congressional district, and has partnered with McKinley (a Republican) in the hope that the bipartisan nature of their opposition has an effect. As they see it, Major League organizations cutting ties with 42 small market teams will have terrible consequences for those local communities.

“The Lowell Spinners and other minor league teams across the United States provide critical economic and cultural benefits to the communities they call home,” Trahan said in a statement. “I was alarmed by news that the MLB is considering a reorganization that will wipe out the Spinners and 41 other minor league teams across the country. The Spinners bring enormous pride and joy to the Greater Lowell Community and the City has invested heavily in LeLacheur Park and surrounding infrastructure, providing an affordable, fun night out for families in the region.”

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Trahan spoke about the issue on the House floor in October, noting that the plan “is a betrayal of the fans and players as well as the stadium vendors and employees around the nation.”

The letter echoes the collective concerns of Trahan and fellow representatives.

“The abandonment of Minor League clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate our communities, their bond purchasers, and other stakeholders affected by the potential loss of these clubs,” the letter reads. “We want you to fully understand the impact this could have not only on the communities we represent, but also on the long-term support that Congress has always afforded our national pastime on a wide variety of legislative initiatives.”

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While Major League proponents of the proposed plan believe it will streamline and improve the efficiency of the minor league system, Trahan and other opponents say it will “wipe out” the affected teams.

“We ask Major League Baseball to strongly reconsider its proposed course with Minor League Baseball and do all that it can to ensure the continuation of affiliated baseball in our communities,” says the letter in closing.

The Spinners have been affiliated with the Red Sox since 1996, and have hosted future Red Sox players like Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jacoby Ellsbury, Hanley Ramirez, and Kevin Youkilis.

Trahan is a first-term Democrat, winning election in 2018.

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