As the Professional Baseball Agreement (PBA) continues to take shape between Major and Minor League Baseball, one thing is for certain: Compromise will come hand in glove with contraction.
"I think there's always some silver lining attached but at the end of the day, it's going to pull affiliated minor league baseball from cities and that's an extremely tough blow for the fans," The Athletic national prospect writer Emily Waldon said.
Baseball America, The Athletic, The Associated Press and Forbes all confirmed that to pay players better wages; a reduction from 160 to approximately 120 ball clubs is all but a guarantee.
"It's about efficiency, it's about that MLB believes this is a better way to have a development system," Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper said.
Since an initial list came out in November, we've repeatedly asked Rocky Mountain Vibes President & General Manager Chris Phillips where the franchise stands.
"I get a lot of I don't know, I get a lot of I don't know and they're being honest about it," Cooper said.
However like so many across the country, until the agreement is ratified, teams won't make public statements, having themselves; more questions than answers.
"According to a recent report I've heard that the list is not absolute, additional teams could be added and some can be taken off that list," Waldon said.
Despite a grim outlook for many fan favorite organizations, there is hope.
"It's easy to simplify, to say all of these teams are going to lose baseball," Cooper said. "MLB again last week publicly stated that it's important to them in this negotiation to make sure that baseball remains."
Teams which ultimately lose their affiliations can gain provisional licenses, go the independent or summer bat league route or even become part of a potential additional prospect-based "dream league".
"If you have professional baseball you have to pay the players, figuring out a economically sustainable system for that is one of the major hurdles of this agreement," Cooper said.
Reports are that a comprise could come as soon as tomorrow or as late as September.
"I think there is a lot of impetus to get a deal done before September 3rd," Cooper said.
With it, the dreams and love of the game for so many, hoping America's pastime, won't pass them by.
"I know general managers from the affiliates are doing their best to make sure they're going to play next year but right now they're at the mercy of the negotiation," Waldon said. "So they'll have to see how that plays out."
"Keeping that mass of differing needs together and unified is a very tricky task and it is a very complicated negotiation which is why it has gone on as long as it has," Cooper said. "We were first writing about this two years ago at Baseball America because we knew this could be very significant and it has turned out to be very significant. Whatever happens, we know this is one of the most important negotiations in the history of minor league baseball."