May 9, 2022

Yankees, Astros Must Face Suit Over Minor League Cuts

Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees and Houston Astros must face lawsuits over their decisions to cut ties with minor league affiliates as part of a reorganization, a New York appeals court said Tuesday.

The opinion by a five-judge panel of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division’s First Judicial Department affirmed rulings by Justice Barry Ostrager denying motions to dismiss claims in two cases: a December 2020 suit by the owners of the defunct Staten Island Yankees and another filed a month later by the Tri-City ValleyCats from Troy, New York.

Staten Island team owners Nostalgic Partners LLC say the Yankees violated a deal to continue their affiliation in perpetuity so long as certain conditions were met. The ValleyCats, for their part, claim a decision by the Astros and MLB to end their relationship tortiously interfered in a business relationship.

An attorney for Nostalgic Partners and the TriCity ValleyCats lauded the ruling on Wednesday.

“It reaffirms what was Nostalgic’s intent in purchasing the Staten Island Yankees, which was to have this affiliation with the Yankees, and to have it so long as Nostalgic complied with the contractual requirements,” attorney Michael Fay of Berg & Androphy said. “The affiliation was one of the primary reasons that Nostalgic bought the Staten Island Yankees, and Nostalgic would never have bought that team if it thought that the affiliation was going to disappear in nine years.”

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The ValleyCats say the Astros and MLB interfered in their agreement with the National Association by luring other minor league teams to leave the National Association and come under MLB’s umbrella.

“The provision plainly prohibits any team that is a party to the NAA from negotiating to become a member of a competing organization,” Tuesday’s order says.

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