Baseball Contraction FAQs

Updated February 28, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

The nitty gritty

by John Gettings

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What's ahead? Is there any precedent for all of this? Here are some answers to your contraction questions.

What is contraction?

  • Contraction is the act of reducing or drawing together to make smaller; the opposite of expansion. In this case, the owners want to reduce the number of teams by eliminating franchises that are losing the most money.

What teams are going to be contracted?

  • The leading candidates are the Minnesota Twins of the American League and the Montreal Expos of the National League. Other teams mentioned are the Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the Oakland Athletics.

How much will Major League Baseball pay for the teams?

  • It is estimated that the league will pay between $125–150 million to the owner of each contracted franchise. When you add in the cost of outstanding player contracts after the dispersal draft and the cost of dissolving the team's minor-league franchises, the final cost could reach $250 million.

How will the players be distributed?

  • Players currently on the contracted teams' rosters will be dispersed through a draft. Although details of the draft have not been revealed, it is expected to be much like baseball's annual amateur draft, with teams selecting in reverse order of finish. Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh both finished a league-worst 62–100 in 2001.

Has this ever happened before?

  • The last time baseball teams were contracted was 1899, when the National League reduced its membership from 12 teams to eight. Teams cut: Baltimore Orioles, Washington Senators, Louisville Colonels, and Cleveland Spiders.

When will contraction occur?

  • Lawyers close to the proceedings have used Dec. 15, 2001, as a drop-dead date, but recently that timetable has been downplayed.

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