Rule 56: Standard Player Development Contract

Looks like the Buffalo Bisons re-brand their logo and uniforms based on the style of their Major League affiliate (here you see Collin McHugh pitch in a Mets-style uniform). Can't wait to see their new Blue Jays-style gear.

The Toronto Blue Jays are going to be formally introducing the International League's Buffalo Bisons as their new AAA affiliate today, after signing a two-year player development contract (PDC). Have you every wondered what actually goes into the PDC?

The agreement that both clubs signs is actually quite simple, a standard form letter that can be found as an attachment to Major League Rule 56 (MLR 56):

The parties to this Player Development Contract, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Buffalo Bisons hereby adopt and agree to all provisions of the standard Player Development Contract (PDC) as set forth in the Major League Rules (MLR) incorporated by reference into the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) between the Major Leagues and the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Inc. As used in the PDC, the term "Major League Club" shall refer to the Toronto Blue Jays and the term "Minor League Club" shall refer to the Buffalo Bisons. This Agreement shall be in effect from the 18th day of September, 2012 through September 30, 2014.

[Signatures of representatives of both teams]

Negotiations and Extra Benefits

According to MLR 56 part (a), the two teams are not allowed to agree to any provisions outside MLBR 56. That is, there can be no amendments or adjustments to the standard contract: no promise of extra money, playing of exhibition games, merchandise revenue sharing, etc. If two teams are caught talking of these extra benefits, the Commissioner's office can fine the Major League (MLB) club $500,000 and the President of the particular minor league can fine the Minor League (MiLB) team up to $100,000.

Re-affiliation Timeline

Each PDC is signed for either two or four years, except in some rare cases. During the final year of the contract, MLR 56 (d) gives a very specific timeline on when various steps to re-affiliation can be done. If any team fails to follow this timeline (for example, if Alex Anthopoulos accidentally said that he wanted to leave Las Vegas before September 16) it is considered to be tampering and is punishable by the Commissioner.

  • End of minor league club's season to Sept. 11: MLB or MiLB club gives the Commissioner or President written notice (by registered/certified mail or telegram only) that they would like to end the PDC. Such notices will be kept confidential until Sept. 12. If neither partner in the PDC submits this written notice, the PDC will continue for another term.
  • Sept. 12 - Sept. 15: The written notices from above will be revealed to all MLB and MiLB clubs that are subject to a PDC termination at the same level (ie. AAA, AA, etc.).
  • Sept. 16 - Sept. 30: Clubs that are subject to a PDC termination may start to discuss with each other about the possibility of forming a new PDC.
  • Oct. 7: Last possible date for clubs to voluntarily sign a PDC before the Commissioner assigns partners. I wonder if this has ever happened... If it did it probably involved Las Vegas...

Continued after the jump!

Who Pays For What

The Major League team pays for:

  • Player salaries, benefits, and any employment taxes
  • Salaries, benefits, and taxes for managers, coaches, instructors, and trainers
  • Travel expenses incurred by players, coaches, and other personnel when they are re-assigned or traded, and when they report to the club and when they go home at the end of the season
  • All spring training expenses, including travel costs of players, coaches, and other personnel from their home city to the camp, and from the camp to the city of the first minor league regular season game, and hotel and food expenses from the date of reporting until the day before the first regular season game
  • Medical supplies purchased by the trainer

The Minor League team pays for:

  • A home playing facility, clubhouse, and their upkeep pursuant to the requirements in MLR 58
  • Uniforms for all players, manager, and coaches
  • Practice baseballs used for shagging
  • Any championship rings

Costs are split on:

  • Bats and balls: MLB club buys all the bats and balls up front, then bills the MiLB club for any bats and balls actually used. Any unused bats and balls remain the property of the MLB club. Costs are split 2:1 MLB : MiLB for class AAA and AA clubs, and 3:1 for clubs at class A and below
  • Equipment manager: costs are split 2:1 MLB : MiLB for class AAA and AA clubs, and 3:1 for clubs at class A and below
  • Meal allowances: MLB team determines how much if will contribute
  • Travel expenses: MiLB team pays for the cost up to 30 players, coaches, managers, and regular staff pursuant to the requirements in MLR 57, MLB team pays for any additional persons plus roving instructors, field coordinators, etc. who are not normally part of the MiLB team
  • Hotel expenses: MiLB team pays for the costs of up to 17 rooms (coaches must have single rooms, players may share rooms), MLB pays for any rooms (for example, single rooms for rehabbing Major League players) in excess plus any rooms for roving instructors, field coordinators, etc.
  • Phone in manager's office: MiLB pays for land line and local calls, MLB pays for long distance and special features

Other Rights and Responsibilities

  • The MLB organization is required to maintain "an active roster of skilled player" for the MiLB. I wonder what the definition of "skilled" is...
  • The MiLB club must respect the MLB organization's decisions in terms of roster moves, and cannot interfere with (ie. publicly complain about) any transactions
  • A MiLB club may ask any player on its roster to participate in promotional activities, and use, reproduce, sell, or license pictures, videos, and voice recordings of any player for any purposes. In tern, the MiLB club grants the MLB club royalty-free rights to use their logos and any pictures of the player for promotional purposes.
  • The MiLB club can recommend to the MLB club any disciplinary action to be taken against a player on its roster (including outright release). If the MLB club refuses to agree with the recommendation, the MiLB club can appeal to the Commissioner.
  • The MLB club should consult the MiLB club before hiring the manager of the team.
  • If a MiLB team decides to relocate, and/or switch leagues, they must obtain permission from the MLB team, or the MLB team may terminate the PDC. If this happens (and I don't know whether it has ever happened), the Commissioner can decide on how to arrange for a new affiliation for the MLB club.

After reading through Rule 56, I was thinking: since everything is standardized and non-negotiable, what exactly was Blue Jays director of minor league operations Charlie Wilson and Bisons general managerMike Buczkowski talking to each other about after the New York Mets officially affiliated with the Las Vegas 51s? What can possibly be negotiated if the Major League club can't offer anything directly to the Minor League team? Perhaps it is more of a sales pitch from the big club, explaining how many good prospects will be on the AAA roster, how much affiliation will drive up attendance, and such indirect benefits.

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