The St. Paul Saints have surfaced as one of two independent baseball teams that would be invited to join the ranks of minor league franchises affiliated with Major League Baseball in a proposed deal expected to be considered Wednesday, according to a report from Baseball America.
The plan, as part of negotiations for a new Professional Baseball Agreement, would reduce the minor leagues from 160 teams to 120 affiliated ones.
Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Derek Sharrer said Tuesday that the Saints are flattered to be mentioned as one of the two independent teams considered, along with the Sugar Land Skeeters, an Atlantic League franchise based outside Houston.
But Sharrer said the team has not been involved any talks regarding the plan.
“We’ve had very little to do with this other than our name being mentioned,’’ Sharrer said. “But I think it’s something the Saints and our fan base can be proud of. The facility, the community, the fan support, the city of St. Paul are all considered assets.”
Sharrer asserted, however, that the Saints are not seeking a change after 27 years as an independent franchise.
“We’re a member of an independent league, and we’re very happy with it,” he said. “Our heritage, our DNA, is tied into being independent. We’ve had success both on and off the field. We provide a brand of entertainment with a certain renegade independent feel to it, but we’re certainly flattered to be in the discussion.”
According to Baseball America, MLB and MiLB already have found common ground on a number of the major outstanding issues that MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem laid out publicly in a letter to members of Congress last November.
If both sides agree, it would mean as many as 42 current minor league teams would be lopped off by eliminating short-season and Rookie ball.
• The Saints announced Tuesday that the American Association has postponed the start of its season.