The Brewers alignment with Colorado Springs has been one that has received a lot of attention since it began in 2015. From the high altitude and challenging weather conditions to the inflated stats, very few people have been happy with the partnership since it began. With the start of the next PDC signing period about a month away, there’s hope that maybe the Brewers can get out of Colorado Springs. However, the current situation says that not only will the Brewers be in Colorado Springs for two more years, but that the team will be affiliated with a team in the city for many years to come.
In the upcoming PDC signing period, only five Triple-A franchises will be “unaffiliated”, assuming they don’t renew their current PDC before the signing period begins. Here are the five teams (according to MinorLeagueSource.com):
- Colorado Spring Sky Sox (Brewers)
- Las Vegas 51s (Mets)
- Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies)
- Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners)
- Toledo Mud Hens (Tigers)
Of those five franchises, there’s three that we can basically eliminate right away: Lehigh Valley, Tacoma, and Toledo. All three have proximity to their parent teams, meaning a switch is not in their best interests. It doesn’t mean that it’s a lock they will renew, but it also makes it that much harder to see any of them wanting to make a switch of affiliation.
That leaves only one potential landing place for the Brewers this offseason: Las Vegas. Is that a better place to play? Not necessarily. The Triple-A team there is currently dealing with their own stadium issues. In addition, getting funding for a new stadium now is going to be a tough sell, with the NHL placing an expansion team there starting in 2017-2018, as well as the city making a push to get a NFL franchise. While Las Vegas may not deal with the same elevation issues as Colorado Springs, it’s not a good spot right now either.
What that means is the Brewers and Sky Sox may end up renewing for two years just for convenience only. Currently, the Sky Sox ownership group is working to build a new stadium in San Antonio for a Triple-A franchise, where they would hope to start play in 2018. Chances of the Brewers going with at that point are low, as the San Antonio franchise would likely grab the Rangers for the regional appeal. In other words, the Brewers will be searching at the Triple-A level at some point, the question is just if it’s this year or two years from now.
Of course, it’s also not a lock that the Sky Sox will leave Colorado Springs in two years. All of this hinges on the construction of a new stadium in San Antonio, which is still seeking funding. If funding for a stadium doesn’t come together, the Sky Sox will be staying in Colorado Springs for the foreseeable future, and the Brewers could end up aligned with them for a while.
Even if the Brewers do manage to leave Colorado Springs at the Triple-A level and the franchise moves to San Antonio, it doesn’t mean that they will be done with the city for good. With one of the conditions of the Sky Sox move being the relocation of the Helena franchise to Colorado Springs, it means that the Brewers will still have a minor-league team located there, though at a different level. The PDC with Helena only runs through 2018, so it’s not a lock the Brewers would move with Helena. However, with options at the Rookie level limited (only 10 Rookie teams are not owned by the parent team), the Brewers wouldn’t have much of a choice on what to do here. Aligning with Helena may be their best bet for several years.
It’s hard to see a future of the Brewers minor-league system that doesn’t involve Colorado Springs in some form for many years. The Brewers may end up sticking with the Sky Sox until they move, and then stay with Colorado Springs as the Helena franchise relocates there. It may be time to get used to the idea of the two working together for a long time.
Brevard County PDC
Of course, the Brewers’ PDC with the Sky Sox isn’t the only one that will be up at the end of the minor-league season. The Brewers also have not renewed their PDC with Brevard County yet, as they prepare to move to Osceola County starting in 2017. The situation in High-A is a better one, as thirteen PDCs will come to an end this year, meaning there is an opportunity to align with another team.
With the recent realignment of two of the California League franchises to the Carolina league, that means the three High-A leagues will have the following openings:
- Five in the California League (Lake Elsinore, Lancaster, Modesto, San Bernardino, Visalia)
- Six in the Carolina League (Carolina, Myrtle Beach, Potomac, Wilmington, Kinston*, Fayetteville*)
- Two in the Florida State League (Brevard County, Charlotte)
The franchises in Kinston and Fayetteville would be the new two franchises in the Carolina League, but both appear to already be locked up with MLB teams. Kinston will be owned by the Rangers, and Fayetteville will sign a lease with the Astros. That still leaves eleven other teams that could be landing spots for the Brewers.
Of course, it may be a moot point to consider anyway. Earlier this year, Tom Haudricourt tweeted that he expects the two sides to renew their affiliation at some point. Whether that remains the case is to be seen, but the Brewers may be content with sticking with Brevard County for the time being.