Looking ahead

Scrappers’ GM optimistic team will play in 2021

There are no catcalls from vendors, enticing customers with their goods; or baseballs smacking into the leather of a catcher’s mitt, or connecting with a wooden bat; or crowds cheering for a rally by the home team.

The sounds of silence now dominate Eastwood Field.

There will be no Mahoning Valley Scrappers season in 2020. The minor league baseball season was canceled on Tuesday. Will the Scrappers return in 2021?

The Professional Baseball Agreement between the majors and the minors expires after this season, and MLB has proposed reducing the minimum affiliates from 160 to 120. Baseball America said in a Nov. 29 article that MLB had identified 42 minor league teams to be eliminated. Mahoning Valley was on that list.

“I would say that’s not the case,” Scrappers General Manager Jordan Taylor said Wednesday. “Everything we’ve been told is the list has been changing and has been fluid. While we don’t know what that list looks like, that has been communicated to us over the last handful of months. Regardless of what happens, we fully expect the Scrappers to be around in 2021, 2022, 2023, for a long time. Our plans are focused on all that.

“We do have to let the process play out. My thought is there’s going to be a lot more negotiation going on before Major League Baseball has its deal in place. We have to be patient. Even going back to the original discussions, (MLB) commissioner (Rob) Manfred said they’re going to want to keep teams in as many of these markets as possible. We’re optimistic this is going to be the case.”

Taylor said he and his staff have been thrown in a whirlwind with the COVID-19 pandemic and the canceled season.

The Mahoning Valley staff is focused on the Scrappers in 2021. Taylor said they’ll be making general plans and having things put in place. They’ll be talking to sponsors and to people who have purchased tickets and let them know what’s going on.

Eastwood Field in June hosted amateur games and other events, based on health protocols. Taylor said the calendar is filling up for July and August now that there is not Scrappers baseball this summer.

Taylor said he would expect he would know the future of the Scrappers well before Sept. 30, when the agreement between the majors and minors expires.

He added Eastwood Field and the Scrappers have what it takes to be a viable minor league team.

“I would put our overall situation up with really anybody in the minor leagues at this point,” Taylor said. “There’s a lot of pluses. Geographically we tie in well. We’re a stadium that has had a couple million dollars put into it and willingness to put more dollars into it in the coming years, which I think is a huge plus.”


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