Here’s what the proposed reduction in minor league affiliates could mean for the Houston Astros.
What was thought of as a crazy idea just a few months ago may now become reality. Baseball America reported on Tuesday that MiLB is agreeing to MLB’s demand to cut the total number of minor league affiliates from 160 to 120 as part of the sides’ negotiations for a new Professional Baseball Agreement. This would affect every major league franchise, including the Houston Astros.
Under this proposed arrangement, each club would have four full-season minor league affiliates plus one rookie level team housed at its Spring Training complex. The idea behind eliminating the extra teams would be to allow for facility improvements to the remaining teams, giving MLB teams more control over choosing their affiliates, and making improvements with respect to travel and the geographical cohesiveness of the various leagues.
The Astros operated with seven minor league affiliates in 2019 — Triple-A Round Rock Express, Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, Class-A Advanced Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Class-A Quad Cities River Bandits, Short-Season Class-A Tri City Valley Cats, one Rookie League team and one Foreign Rookie League team. They had as many as nine affiliates as recently as 2017, having four Rookie League teams.
If this purported agreement goes through, the Rookie League and Short-Season teams would be eliminated, leaving each club with Class-A, Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A clubs. Some realignment and changes in affiliation would be possible, so there could be some turnover with the Astros minor league affiliates.