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Minor League Shuffle: A series of changes leave Milwaukee Brewers out a Triple-A affiliate

Today, a series of franchise moves puts the Brewers in a position where they will not have a Triple-A affiliate (and potentially a rookie affiliate) after 2018.

Colorado Rockies v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images

Some fans are about to get their wish for the Brewers Triple-A franchise: It won’t be in Colorado Springs after 2018.

Today, minor-league teams announced a series of changes that will affect the Brewers Triple-A status starting with the 2019 season. The cascade started in San Antonio, where their Double-A team will advance to play at the Triple-A level. The city had been linked with a Triple-A franchise for a few years, but after failed attempts to move the Sky Sox to San Antonio and build a new stadium, the owners of the Double-A team in San Antonio will instead advance that team a level instead.

Of course, a team can’t just advance a level in the minor leagues. There have to be corresponding moves to make it happen. It didn’t take long for those to start trickling out. Both of the moves involve current Brewers affiliates:

To allow for the San Antonio move, Colorado Springs will be reclassifed as a rookie league team, and Helena will move there. This will still leave a vacancy at the Double-A level, but that can be filled at a later time. In all likelihood, there’s something in the works already for that because an open spot can’t be left at any level.

Here’s the overall impact for the Brewers organization. The biggest impact is that the Brewers are likely out a Triple-A affiliate in 2019. While it would seem logical to simply have the affiliation follow to San Antonio, it’s not that simple of a move. There are other elements in play as well:

This is the likely shuffle that will play out following the addition of San Antonio to Triple-A, sending the Brewers to Fresno. However, there’s 20+ Triple-A deals set to expire after 2018 right now, so it’s way too early to predict what will happen. If everything holds, Fresno is the likely landing point for the Brewers, but we’ll have to wait and see if it all does hold. Even one other opening could give the Brewers some leverage when finding another location for 2019.

Meanwhile, the Helena franchise would move to Colorado Springs. It might also make sense for the Brewers to follow this move, but this one could also not be that simple. The Brewers current deal with Helena ends after 2018. Though there’s no directly competing teams in this scenario (the Rockies own their rookie level team, so they likely wouldn’t jump in), it remains to be seen if both sides would want to continue the affiliation. There’s no reason to think that they wouldn’t, but both sides would have a chance to seek another affiliation if they chose to.

At least we should see stability with Double-A Biloxi and Class-A Wisconsin, who are signed through 2020. Also, while High-A Carolina is set to expire after 2018, the Brewers and owner Mark Attanasio are working to buy the franchise in Carolina, which would ensure stability there for years to come. Having stability at those three levels is a welcome change from the uncertainty at the other two.

For now, we will have to wait and see how this affiliation change affects the Brewers Triple-A franchise overall. Depending on if you’re an optimist or pessimist, there’s two different ways to look at this. If you’re a pessimist, the Brewers are once again an outcast at the Triple-A level, potentially looking for whatever scraps are left over. If you’re an optimist, the Brewers are escaping Colorado Springs (at least at the Triple-A level), and wherever they end up will be an overall improvement.