2021 Minor League Baseball – League Structure Revision

Based on reports as to what the league structure will be, I’ve made some updates to my list.

It sounds like the AAA will have 20 teams in the International League and 10 teams in the Pacific Coast League.  As a result, I’ve also moved Iowa, Memphis, Omaha, and St. Paul to the IL, in addition to Nashville who I put there to have two even numbered leagues.

I also made the Mid-Atlantic League a 12 team league, which would eliminate the Carolina League.  And I put Bowling Green there instead of Lake County, since it sounds like how they are now planning things.

This is all tentative as it depends on each team agreeing to the PDL, so there could still be some team changes, which could impact the league structures.

Red denotes changes.  Blue denotes ownership stake.

So according to this Minor League Baseball would look something like this:

International League (AAA)
Buffalo Bisons – Blue Jays
Charlotte Knights – White Sox
Columbus Clippers – Indians
Durham Bulls – Rays
Gwinnett Stripers – Braves
Indianapolis Indians – Pirates
Iowa Cubs – Cubs – Move from Pacific Coast League
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp – Marlins

Lehigh Valley IronPigs – Phillies
Louisville Bats – Reds
Memphis Redbirds – Cardinals – Move from Pacific Coast League
Nashville Sounds – Rangers Brewers – Move from Pacific Coast League
Norfolk Tides – Orioles
Omaha Storm Chasers – Royals – Move from Pacific Coast League
Rochester Red Wings – Twins Nationals
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders – Yankees
St. Paul Saints – Twins
Syracuse Mets – Mets

Toledo Mud Hens – Tigers
Worcester Red Sox – Red Sox

Pacific Coast League (AAA)
Albuquerque Isotopes – Rockies
El Paso Chihuahuas – Padres
Fresno Grizzlies – Nationals – Move to California League (Low A)
Las Vegas Aviators – A’s
Oklahoma City Dodgers – Dodgers
Reno Aces – Diamondbacks
Round Rock Express – Astros Rangers
Sacramento River Cats – Giants
Salt Lake Bees – Angels
San Antonio Missions – Brewers – Move to Texas League (AA)
Sugar Land Skeeters – Astros
Tacoma Rainiers – Mariners
Wichita Wind Surge – Marlins – Move to Texas League (AA)

Eastern League (AA)
Akron RubberDucks – Indians
Altoona Curve – Pirates
Binghamton Rumble Ponies – Mets
Bowie Baysox – Orioles
Erie SeaWolves – Tigers
Harrisburg Senators – Nationals
Hartford Yard Goats – Rockies
New Hampshire Fisher Cats – Blue Jays
Portland Sea Dogs – Red Sox
Reading Fightin Phils – Phillies
Richmond Flying Squirrels – Giants
Somerset Patriots – Yankees
Trenton Thunder – Yankees

Southern League (AA)
Biloxi Shuckers – Brewers
Birmingham Barons – White Sox
Chattanooga Lookouts – Reds
Jackson Generals – Diamondbacks
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp – MarlinsMove to International League (AAA)
Mississippi Braves – Braves
Montgomery Biscuits – Rays
Pensacola Blue Wahoos – Twins Marlins
Rocket City Trash Pandas – Angels
Tennessee Smokies – Cubs

Texas League (AA)
Amarillo Sod Poodles – Padres Diamondbacks
Arkansas Travelers – Mariners
Corpus Christi Hooks – Astros
Frisco RoughRiders – Rangers
Midland RockHounds – A’s
Northwest Arkansas Naturals – Royals
San Antonio Missions – Padres
Springfield Cardinals – Cardinals
Tulsa Drillers – Dodgers
Wichita Wind Surge – Twins

Mid-Atlantic League Carolina League (High A)
Aberdeen IronBirds – Orioles
Asheville Tourists – Astros
Bowling Green Hot Rods – Rays – Move from Midwest League
Brooklyn Cyclones – Mets

Carolina Mudcats – BrewersMove to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Down East Wood Ducks – RangersMove to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Fayetteville Woodpeckers – Astros – Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Frederick Keys – Orioles
Fredericksburg Nationals – Nationals
Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Greensboro Grasshoppers – Pirates
Greenville Drive – Red Sox
Hickory Crawdads – Rangers
Hudson Valley Renegades – Yankees
Jersey Shore BlueClaws – Phillies
Lynchburg Hillcats – Indians – Move to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – CubsMove to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Rome Braves – Braves

Salem Red Sox – Red SoxMove to South Atlantic League (Low A)
Wilmington Blue Rocks – Royals Nationals
Winston-Salem Dash – White Sox

Midwest League (Low A) (High A)
Beloit Snappers – A’s Marlins
Burlington Bees – Angels
Cedar Rapids Kernels – Twins
Clinton Lumber Kings – Marlins
Dayton Dragons – Reds
Fort Wayne TinCaps – Padres
Great Lakes Loons – Dodgers
Kane County Cougars – Diamondbacks
Lake County Captains – Indians
Lansing Lugnuts – Blue Jays A’s
Peoria Chiefs – Cardinals
Quad Cities River Bandits – Astros Royals
South Bend Cubs – Cubs
West Michigan Whitecaps – Tigers
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers – Brewers

Northwest League (A – Short Season) (High A)
Boise Hawks – Rockies
Eugene Emeralds – Cubs Giants
Everett AquaSox – Mariners
Hillsboro Hops – Diamondbacks
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes – Giants
Spokane Indians – Rangers Rockies
Tri-City Dust Devils – Padres Angels
Vancouver Canadians – Blue Jays

California League (High A)(Low A)
Fresno Grizzlies – Rockies
Lake Elsinore Storm – Padres
Lancaster JetHawks – Rockies
Modesto Nuts – Mariners
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes – Dodgers
San Bernardino Inland Empire 66ers – Angels
San Jose Giants – Giants
Stockton Ports – A’s
Visalia Rawhide – Diamondbacks

Florida State League (High A)(Low A)
Bradenton Marauders – Pirates
Charlotte Stone Crabs – Rays
Clearwater Threshers – Phillies
Daytona Tortugas- Reds
Dunedin Blue Jays – Blue Jays
Florida Fire Frogs – Braves
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels – Twins
Jupiter Hammerheads – Marlins
Lakeland Flying Tigers – Tigers
Palm Beach Cardinals – Cardinals
St. Lucie Mets – Mets
Tampa Tarpons – Yankees

South Atlantic League (Low A)
Asheville Tourists – Rockies – Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Augusta GreenJackets – Giants Braves
Carolina Mudcats – Brewers
Charleston Riverdogs – Yankees Rays
Columbia Fireflies – Mets Royals
Delmarva Shorebirds – Orioles
Down East Wood Ducks – Rangers
Fayetteville Woodpeckers – Astros

Fredericksburg Nationals – Nationals
Greensboro Grasshoppers – PiratesMove to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Greenville Drive – Red SoxMove to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Hagerstown Suns – Nationals
Hickory Crawdads – RangersMove to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Jersey Shore BlueClaws – PhilliesMove to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers – White Sox
Lexington Legends – Royals
Lynchburg Hillcats – Indians
Myrtle Beach Pelicans – Cubs

Rome Braves – BravesMove to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Salem Red Sox – Red Sox

West Virginia Power – Mariners

NY-Penn League (A – Short Season)
Aberdeen IronBirds – Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Auburn Doubledays
Batavia Muckdogs
Brooklyn Cyclones – Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Hudson Valley Renegades – Move to Mid-Atlantic League (High A)
Lowell Spinners
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Norwich Sea Unicorns
State College Spikes

Staten Island Yankees
Tri-City ValleyCats
Vermont Lake Monsters
West Virginia Black Bears
Williamsport Crosscutters

Appalachian League (Rookie – Short Season)
Bluefield Blue Jays
Bristol Pirates
Burlington Royals
Danville Braves
Elizabethton Twins
Greeneville Reds
Johnson City Cardinals
Kingsport Mets
Princeton Rays
Pulaski Yankees

Pioneer League (Rookie – Short Season)
Billings Mustangs
Grand Junction Rockies
Great Falls Voyagers
Idaho Falls Chukars
Missoula PaddleHeads
Ogden Raptors
Orem Owlz
Rocky Mountain Vibes

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24 Responses to 2021 Minor League Baseball – League Structure Revision

  1. Iron Horse says:

    I wouldn’t count out a separate Carolina League just yet! Do you plan to take a stab at divisions?

  2. Mike McCann says:

    I agree with you that nothing is final yet and I was surprised to hear sources say that Bowling Green would be joining the Mid-Atlantic League as I still think that Lake County is a better fit. I could see them deciding to go with two six team leagues instead of a twelve team league even after all of this. And even though they made their announcement public, there really isn’t anything stopping them from making more changes if they really wanted to.

    But given it’s current state, I would think it would be:
    Northeast – Aberdeen, Brooklyn, Greensboro, Hudson Valley, Jersey Shore, Wilmington
    Southwest – Asheville, Bowling Green, Greenville, Hickory, Rome, Winston-Salem

    Definitely difficult because Greensboro and Winston-Salem are so close together, but if you make me pick from that list, I think it makes the most sense despite the outlier. When there was the 8 team Carolina League, Lynchburg and Salem ended up in different divisions, so it’s not like they wouldn’t do it. I still prefer many of the ideas that this group had that had a better geographic distribution between High A and Low A, but it sounds like that isn’t as important as we once thought. And if somehow division travel became an issue, another option would be flipping Greenville and Salem back to have the VA-NC border as the line (with line going slightly north to force Bowling Green below it).

    I also don’t know how much stock to put in that Lowell comment because it’s never clear what is based in reality and what is conjecture. I’m not so sure that there is a big master plan in place that involves long term thinking because this is a sport that definitely isn’t known for that. It would make divisional play easier, but the footprint becomes so large and disjointed that it would almost force you to go with two separate leagues. There’s a large distance between Aberdeen and Greensboro already and adding a team further northeast makes travel for the entire league much tougher.

  3. Chin says:

    I’m actually going to double down on Lowell ending up in the MAL. 🙂

    …mainly because of this article, which I think carries significantly more weight than Ballpark Digest:

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/12/09/sports/red-sox-lowell-spinners-minor-leagues/

    “The Red Sox decided to cut ties with the Lowell Spinners for the upcoming season, but the door has not been slammed shut for Lowell to regain Red Sox affiliation as early as 2022.

    “The controlling interest that the Red Sox’ parent company, Fenway Sports Group, holds in Salem, approximately 30 percent, forced the Red Sox to stick with Salem for at least the 2021 season, according to an industry source.”

    Not really sure how to interpret that last paragraph.

    Again, to me it makes more sense that MLB would OK that wonky MAL regional split if they know it’s only temporary. Bring Lowell in (with Salem out and Greenville back to the SAL), and you can either do the two divisions with an unbalanced schedule, or just split them altogether into to six-team leagues like the NWL, “bringing back” the Carolina for the current southern MAL teams.

  4. Iron Horse says:

    If the plan is to move Salem to Lowell for 2022, then it would make more sense to put Salem in the Mid-Atlantic League (Northern Division) and keep Greenville in the SAL for 2021. That way no need to separate Greensboro and Winston-Salem, and Bowling Green can play in the MAL Southern Division/Carolina League.

    Mike, feel like working out any other leagues’ divisions? Most are pretty straightforward, but the International League is an interesting challenge. Also the SAL, to a lesser extent.

  5. Justin says:

    I’m not Mike but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once. Here’s how I think I’d do the rest of the League alignments:

    International League – This one’s a tough one to begin with especially since we’re already starting with uneven divisions (1 6-team division, 2 4-team divisions) so why not lean into it a bit and go with 2 6-team divisions and 2 4-team divisions?
    Eastern Conference
    North Division – Buffalo, Lehigh Valley, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Rochester, Syracuse, Worcester
    South Division – Charlotte, Durham, Jacksonville, Norfolk
    Western Conference
    Central Division – Columbus, Gwinnett, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Toledo
    West Division – Iowa, Memphis, Omaha, St. Paul

    Pacific Coast League
    Western Division – Las Vegas, Reno, Sacramento, Salt Lake, Tacoma
    Eastern Division – Albuquerque, El Paso, Oklahoma City, Round Rock, Sugar Land

    Eastern League
    Western Division – Akron, Altoona, Bowie, Erie, Harrisburg, Richmond
    Eastern Division – Binghamton, Hartford, New Hampshire, Portland, Reading, Somerset

    Southern League
    North Division – Birmingham, Chattanooga, Rocket City, Tennessee
    South Division – Biloxi, Mississippi, Montgomery, Pensacola,

    Texas League
    North Division – Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas, Springfield, Tulsa, Wichita
    South Division – Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Frisco, Midland, San Antonio

    Mid-Atlantic League – No great way to divide, so lean into the regionality of it and go with uneven divisions
    Northern Division – Aberdeen, Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, Jersey Shore, Wilmington
    Southern Division – Asheville, Bowling Green, Greensboro, Greenville, Hickory, Rome, Winston-Salem

    Midwest League
    Western Division – Beloit, Cedar Rapids, Peoria, Quad Cities, South Bend, Wisconsin
    Eastern Division – Dayton, Fort Wayne, Great Lakes, Lake County, Lansing, West Michigan

    Northwest League
    No divisions – one league of 6 teams.

    California League
    North Division – Fresno, Modesto, San Jose, Stockton
    South Division – Lake Elsinore, Inland Empire, Rancho Cucamonga, Visalia

    Florida State League
    North Division – Clearwater, Daytona, Dunedin, Lakeland, Tampa
    South Division – Bradenton, Fort Myers, Jupiter, Palm Beach, St. Lucie

    South Atlantic League
    Northern Division – Carolina, Delmarva, Fredericksburg, Kinston, Lynchburg, Salem
    South Division – Augusta, Charleston, Columbia, Fayetteville, Kannapolis, Myrtle Beach

  6. Chin says:

    Iron Horse, I agree on moving Salem up and Greenville down now, if Salem to Lowell is the eventual plan. It would hurt Rome some to take away a closer rival, but would fill a little of the huge territory that exists between the two divisions, even if it’s not too significant. It sounds like a Red Sox plan, not a “Red Sox & MLB” plan, so I’m not sure MLB really would’ve taken it into consideration when setting up leagues, or even if they were aware.

    Anyway, another article that alludes to it: https://www.lowellsun.com/2020/12/09/lowell-spinners-will-not-be-red-sox-minor-league-affiliate-in-2021/

    I’m just intrigued by this story, and this article seems to suggest that current Lowell owner Dave Heller is in on the plan. I don’t know how that would work. Contract Salem and expand back into Lowell with Heller’s team? Move the Salem team and sell a stake to Heller? I can’t imagine he’d be gung-ho for a plan to put affiliated ball back in Lowell but him not be the owner.

    And apologies, this may become a “beat a dead horse” story for me now that I don’t have the move down to 120 to pay attention to distract me. I’ll drop the topic from this site unless something significant happens. 🙂

  7. Al says:

    Not to change the subject, but I want to share some things I found while sifting through the 120. Some of this is sort of piggybacking on Iron Horse’s number crunching the other day.

    -15 of 30 MLB teams added no new affiliates.
    -14 of those 15 saw some sort of shift in hierarchy of their top four affiliates from 2019.
    -Only one MLB team had all four top affiliates stay in the same order. First one to find it gets a digital cookie.

    By my count, there were 6 “reunions” of old pairings from before the 2019 season.*

    Texas and Round Rock (2011-18)
    Milwaukee and Nashville (2005-14)
    San Diego and San Antonio (2007-18)
    Houston and Asheville (1982-93 + 1967)
    Tampa Bay and Charleston (1997-2004)
    San Francisco and Eugene (1959-62)

    *there’s some gray area with franchise continuity for some of these teams (especially the Emeralds) but let’s just say reunions with teams that used the same name.

    Speaking of names, there were two nickname quirks that stood out to me.

    The Tri-City Dust Devils are now with the Los Angeles Angels. You could make some sort of analogy about devils needing to crawl out of the dust before they can become angels…eh, maybe that’s a stretch.

    I was never a big fan of the nickname “Jumbo Shrimp,” but I have to say that it makes more sense for a Triple-A team. They are jumbo in the sense that they’re at the highest level of the minors, but shrimp since they are still a minor league club.

  8. Mike McCann says:

    Regarding Lowell, I think that is a possibility because I agree that since the Red Sox had a stake in Salem that they were forced to stick with it and they would prefer to have a local affiliate. But they knew about this contraction plan for over a year now and had an opportunity to position Lowell as an affiliate rather than force them to take a year off. I wouldn’t think that this would be the Red Sox trying to take advantage of an opportunity because Lowell doesn’t want to join the Draft League because this should have been their primary plan all along. Definitely agree that if they had this as their plan entering the invitation phase that they would have made Salem their High A affiliate. Since there is still movement to be made regarding the leagues, I think that the telling sign would be if they move Salem to the MAL. But then again, I’m speculating that they would apply long-term thinking and do things logically in professional baseball.

    As far as divisions go, I definitely think Justin has a great approach. Starting from the bottom, that SAL approach splits Carolina, Down East and Fayetteville in it’s current format, but if you swap the levels of Salem and Greenville, the divisions get much more straightforward there also. Win-Win! But that’s probably the most logical given the current slate of teams.

    In general, I think that they would do two divisions of odd numbered teams if they were evenly split, but I don’t think they would do a 5-7 split in the MAL. So I’m sticking with Greensboro in the north.

    The International League is definitely difficult. I agree that you would need to do unbalanced divisions because of the northeast cluster, but I’d group them a little differently and put Gwinnett and Nashville with the southern teams. And while it may end up as 4 divisions, I’ll then combine the west and central into one division and go with a total of three (6-6-8). And now I think it’s starting to look like two of the leagues that we had when we talked about three AAA leagues.
    Northeast Division – Buffalo, Lehigh Valley, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Rochester, Syracuse, Worcester
    Southeast Division – Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett, Jacksonville, Nashville, Norfolk
    West Division – Columbus, Indianapolis, Iowa, Louisville, Memphis, Omaha, St. Paul, Toledo

  9. Chin says:

    I remember reading in Baseball America last summer about interleague play possibly happening, and managed to find that article. It also suggests inter-classification play could happen, which could accommodate for things like that odd-numbered regional split in the MAL (e.g. MAL teams could end up playing Delmarva and the Virginia SAL teams, Bowling Green could face Chattanooga and Tennessee, etc.). I wonder if that’s still a consideration?

    “It is still possible that the South Atlantic League would remain as a 12-team league and split into North and South Divisions that rarely play each other. Or the SAL and Mid-Atlantic League could also have some interleague play, fulfilling the same purpose in a slightly different structure.”

    https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/mlbs-proposed-120-milb-teams-for-2021-may-include-some-surprises/

  10. Jason says:

    What is this was the structure for the new 20 team IL:

    Northeast: Buffalo, Rochester, Scranton/W-B, Syracuse, Worcester
    Southeast: Charlotte, Durham, Gwinnett, Jacksonville, Norfolk
    Central (ish): Columbus, Indianapolis, Lehigh Valley, Louisville, Toledo
    West: Iowa, Memphis, Nashville, Omaha, St. Paul

    Don’t like the Pennsylvania team split but about as close geographically as I think you could get.

  11. Justin says:

    The concept of interclassification play between the MAL and SAL is intriguing but I’d want to know how it’d work in practice. You’d have several instances where you’d have the Low-A and High-A affiliate of the same team play each other and I can’t imagine that would be desirable for a number of reasons. So do you just say that you can never have an intraorganization game? If so that eliminates any match-up between:

    Augusta/Rome
    Charleston/Bowling Green
    Delmarva/Aberdeen
    Down East/Hickory
    Fayetteville/Asheville
    Fredericksburg/Wilmington
    Kannapolis/Winston-Salem
    Salem/Greenville

    A one-off exhibition match between teams is one thing but an actual competitive match where place in the standings is on the line? That’d make it tough to have.

  12. Al says:

    For what it’s worth, there is a history of minor league affiliates within the same system squaring off against each other. As recently as 2002, the Oakland A’s had two Cal League teams with Modesto and Visalia. (Talk about a fun game to watch for an A’s fan/prospect watcher.) It would seem weird to have that return, but I wouldn’t count it out, at least here and there.

    I’m preparing for the MLB takeover of the minors to change a lot of things we are used to. They are already eliminating league All-Star games. That sucks. I was planning to go to one in 2021. Minor league owners are fine with that as long as they get more home dates.

    There hasn’t been any news of eliminating minor league playoffs yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes to that – especially at the higher levels where we still (at least as of 2019) sometimes see a push-pull of September callups and minor league managers wanting to keep prospects down until MiLB playoffs are over.

    Last year, one MLB exec made a comment about how it’s a waste of player development to “stage games” that have no meaning. It’s true that only a tiny percentage of baseball fans even following minor league standings, but I hope that MLB doesn’t ditch competitive integrity altogether.

    MLB is also now 100% in control of scheduling, so they can schedule any way they see fit. Will that be 100+ glorified exhibition games designed to limit travel or wear and tear on the players? Let’s hope not.

  13. Iron Horse says:

    Al, it’s the White Sox. The Red Sox too if they end up keeping Salem in High A and Greenville in Low A. Gimme cookie. 🙂

    Mike, a 6/6/8 split in the IL could certainly work. In that case though, I’d argue in favor of keeping the Tennessee teams together by moving Memphis and Louisville to your Southeast Division. My proposal is a 6/7/7 split with Louisville in the West and Memphis in the South(east), though that would necessitate constant interdivisional play, unlike with a 6/6/8 split.

    For the SAL, the dividing line is in North Carolina. Kannapolis is the odd man out in the sense that they’re the only one of the 4 NC schools to have remained in the SAL, whereas the other 3 all came from the Carolina League (and they make a nice cluster of opponents in the eastern part of the state, while Kannapolis is set apart to the west). So if indeed Salem remains in High A and Greenville ends up staying in the SAL, I think it’s Kannapolis to the Southern Division and the other 3 to the Northern.

    If Greenville is in High A and Salem in the SAL, the eastern 3 NC teams will have to be split 2/1. I’m thinking they’ll aim to keep Down East and Fayetteville together. Not only are they close in proximity, but they’re also affiliates of rival Texas teams. So that would mean Carolina and Kannapolis to the Northern and Down East and Fayetteville to the Southern. Technically, that’s also how you’d split the teams if you were strictly working by latitude.

  14. Al says:

    Digital cookie granted. (No idea if that emoji will translate.)

  15. Iron Horse says:

    Another thought about Boston’s affiliates: Perhaps Greenville was moved to High A and Salem to Low A because the Red Sox intend to drop Greenville in 2022 in favor of Lowell, rather than moving Salem to Lowell. Since the Red Sox already own Salem, moving them to replace independently-owned Lowell seems more complicated than just dropping one independent owner (Greenville) in favor of another. Then again, it doesn’t explain why the Red Sox would be delaying such a move instead of just inviting Lowell over Greenville as their High A affiliate for 2021.

  16. Al says:

    Yeah, I think it’s telling that Boston invited Greenville rather than Lowell at High-A. Sticking with Fluor Field (aka Mini Fenway) was apparently a priority. All things equal, the Red Sox might have preferred Lowell to Salem, but things are not equal. Boston may have buyer’s remorse about Salem, but they aren’t going to let their investment slip away. So Lowell is left to twist in the wind for now.

    One interesting factor is that Dave Heller and the Spinners have a stadium lease deal with the City of Lowell that extends through 2017.

    https://www.milb.com/lowell/news/spinners-extend-lease-with-city-of-lowell-237604304

    So it’s not as simple as moving the Salem franchise to Lowell as these rumors suggest. The BoSox could potentially change affiliates, but then they would have to choose between losing Greenville or losing their Salem franchise. PDLs are going to mostly be 10-year deals (some will apparently be 5-year “provisional licenses”) so if Boston extended the invite to Greenville, they are prepared to make a multi-year deal with the Drive. Maybe there’s some back-room deal that Boston could work out with Dave Heller, but like Mike says, they have had a year to do that if it is important to them. Seems to me like the Spinners will not be joining affiliated ball unless some other MAL team declines their invite.

  17. Al says:

    Oops. Lease was signed in 2017, extends through 2017.

  18. Al says:

    Ugh! 2027.

  19. Iron Horse says:

    Couldn’t the Red Sox just basically hire the Lowell ownership to run their Salem franchise (in Lowell)?

  20. Al says:

    Yeah, but then Heller’s franchise would lose all value. The only way I can see that working is if there was a massive buyout.

    It’s a relief to not chase these crazy rumors for a bit. Let’s assume that Lowell is (sadly) out of the mix until we get something more substantive.

  21. Iron Horse says:

    Another possibility for fixing the alignment of the Mid-Atlantic League (or at least a reason why it’s screwed up): per the article linked below, the Astros have been pleased with the facilities of their NYPL affiliate Tri-City. Instead of promoting Tri-City to High A, however, the Astros affiliated with Asheville, which had been a Rockies affiliate and has an ancient stadium. The article also notes that the Tourists are owned by the governor of Ohio. Wrong state, of course, but perhaps some behind-the-scenes politicking outweighed Chuck Schumer’s public politicking for the ValleyCats, which could also explain the Astros’ silence. Maybe MLB’s plan (assuming they actually had one) was for Tri-City to get the nod and Asheville the ax. Neither team was on the original hit list of 42, but there were clearly negotiations made in the interim that partly invalidated that list anyway.

    https://www.timesunion.com/sports/article/ValleyCats-No-contact-from-Astros-since-losing-15803799.php

    Now, if the ValleyCats were substituted for the Tourists, which unlike a Salem-to-Lowell move would not require switching teams between the announced classes for 2021, then you’d have a nice 6-team High A grouping in the Northeast for the MAL (North) and a decent 6-team High A grouping in the South Atlantic (plus Bowling Green) for the Carolina League or MAL South. As it stands though, shoehorning Lake County into the MAL and keeping Bowling Green in the MWL remains the best option from a travel perspective.

  22. Al says:

    Looks like the ValleyCats are joining the Frontier League. No big surprise, but I thought they might go with the longer season of the Atlantic League. Guess they won’t be available to replace any of the 120 that may choose to decline their invite.

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