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Saturday, December 2

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Cubs Wed Aug 22 2012

Cubs Hoping to Bring Affiliate Closer to Chicago

Cubs_200.pngIf the rumors floating around Chicago and Peoria are true, the North Siders may have a new Low-A affiliate in 2013. According to the Chicago Sun Times, the Cubs are working toward a player development contract with the Kane County Cougars in a move that would bring their most local affiliate even closer to the Chicagoland area.

If the deal ends up happening (nothing can be signed or announced until after the minor league seasons end in September), the change in affiliates would be a major benefit to the Major League club by simply being closer geographically. The distance would allow Cubs executives a chance to see recent draftees more often, and even bring prospects to Wrigley Field on off days for workouts, along with familiarizing them with the city. It's also handy for rehabbing players being just a stone's throw away.

For the Cougars, the deal is too good to be true. They play in a great facility at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva (I was there earlier this year for the Midwest League All-Star Game, and couldn't speak more highly of it), and should see a major influx of fans (though they've had great attendance already) by housing the stars of tomorrow for the Cubs. Kane County is currently the Low-A affiliate for the Kansas City Royals.

In contrast -- an affiliation change puts Peoria in a bit of minor league limbo. They're guaranteed to be paired with a Major League team based on the rules of the system, but a partnership with the Cubs has been advantageous over the years because of the local fandom for the organization in the state of Illinois. Peoria has been home to the Cubs Low-A team for the past eight seasons.

The news isn't earth-shattering by any means. Major League teams shuffle minor league affiliates all the time as teams can only agree to two- and four-year deals. It's also worth noting that almost all minor league teams are independently owned. The players and coaches along with baseballs and bats are paid for by the parent club (in this case, the Cubs), and the minor league team covers all other costs while receiving all of the gate and advertising profit the team collects.

The deal isn't official by any means yet, but it's an exciting potential change for Cubs fans in Chicago, who may now have an opportunity to see top prospects without having to travel multiple hours. Early reports have the Cubs sending 2012 first round outfielder Albert Almora to Low-A next season -- along with, uh, round first basemen Daniel Vogelbach. There's an outside chance that Cuban defector Jorge Soler could remain there as well, but the best bet is him going to Daytona to being the 2013 season.

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