From BR Bullpen
Contraction refers to the elimination of teams for the greater financial stability of the rest of the league. Generally, the league owners will buy out the owners of the struggling club, eliminate the club, and conduct a dispersal draft. A major league has not contracted since 1899, when the National League eliminated four teams (the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Spiders, Louisville Colonels and Washington Senators).
In the winter of 2001-2002, Commissioner Bud Selig and the owners voted to contract two teams in time for the 2002 season. These teams were likely to be the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins. While the Expos were taken over by Major League Baseball and eventually moved, Twins fans vociferously argued against contraction. Additionally, lawmakers forced the club to honor their lease, thus saving the Twins and preventing MLB from proceeding with contraction of the Expos, for lack of a second team to eliminate.
 Further Reading
- Danny Gallagher and Bill Young: "Contraction talk was bad news for the franchise", in Remembering the Montreal Expos, Scoop Press, Toronto, ON, 2005, pp. 242-244.