Ángel Ventura on the mound for the Milwaukee Milkmen
Three Batter Minimum

Three Batter Minimum: Player to Be Named Later

For the most part, the unaffiliated baseball world is a very organized one. The years of it being this wild and crazy place where surprising stuff happens all the time ended long ago. They play professional baseball, the same as the affiliated leagues. There’s nothing truly zany about the way unaffiliated baseball leagues and teams are run these days. Unless, of course, the topic at hand is the way that trades operate.

Specifically, we’re talking about trades that involve a player to be named later, or PTBNL for short. I know what you’re saying, there are PTBNL trades in Major League Baseball all the time. You, good reader are correct, but, let me ask you a question. How many times is the same player involved in a PTBNL trade? Oh, you’re scratching your head now, aren’t you? Don’t worry, it’s time to dig into the one way that unaffiliated baseball is still wild and zany in a way that affiliated baseball could never hope to achieve.

One of these crazy PTBNL trades just took place a week ago. On February 9th, the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Association traded Ángel Ventura to the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League for a PTBNL. Fast forward two days and on February 11th, the Grizzlies traded Ventura back to the Milkmen as the PTBNL from the February 9th transaction. Does any of that make sense to you? No, good, it sure as heck doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. In other words, welcome to the wonderful world of unaffiliated baseball.

The Ventura transactions aren’t isolated either, weird PTBNL deals where one player goes to another league and is then sent straight back to his original team happen frequently. There has to be another component to these deals, but it’s never made public if there is one. There’s no scenario where these trades take place on a regular basis unless money is being exchanged from team to team, or something. While I may not know what the other components of these transactions are, I can assure you of one thing, they will continue to take place.

Just think if you will, it’s the off-season and Dylan Bundy is traded from the Los Angeles Angels to the New York Mets for a PTBNL. Then two days later Bundy is traded right back to the Angels as the PTBNL from the earlier deal. Crazy, right? Sure, it is, it’s also dumb and nonsensical, but it’s fun to watch happen and chuckle at. Yet another reason why I prefer unaffiliated ball to affiliated ball by a healthy margin these days.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – American Association

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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