COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Columbus Clippers announced on Friday that they will continue to be the top minor-league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians for the next 10 years, but the opponents that they play are going to change.
For the Clippers, at minimum it is a sign that the 2021 season will be played after the 2020 season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The affiliation agreement was part of a wave of announcements as Major League Baseball restructures the minor league system. It invited 120 minor league clubs, including the Clippers, to accept professional development league licenses under a plan that includes higher salaries for minor leaguers and updated facilities.
It also will include a geographical realignment of the minor leagues. The Clippers are long-time members of the International League, but on an affiliate map released by the team, they will become part of the Midwest Division of Triple-A East.
Also in the Midwest (with parent major league club) are:
- Indianapolis (Pittsburgh)
- Iowa (Chicago Cubs)
- Louisville (Cincinnati)
- Omaha (Kansas City)
- St. Paul (Minnesota)
- Toledo (Detroit)
The Triple-A East also includes Northeast and Southeast divisions for 20 total teams, as well as a separate Triple-A West with 10 teams.
In addition to Triple-A, the realignment plan includes Double-A, High-A and Low-A levels. Cleveland’s other affiliates will be Akron (Double-A), Lake County (High-A) and Lynchburg, Virginia (Low-A). The other affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds will be Chattanooga (Double-A), Dayton (High-A) and Daytona (Low-A).
The realignment plan has left several minor league teams without partners. One of those, the Mahoning Valley Scappers of Niles, Ohio, are now part of the MLB Draft League.