Major changes to Minor League Baseball for next season include the elimination of more than 40 total affiliates and limiting the number of total affiliates each team can have. For the Cubs, that means dropping one of their minor league clubs — most likely the Eugene Emeralds, who will move to full-season ball — and potentially shifting around the levels of others.
One of those everyone expected to remain in the organization was the Iowa Cubs, who’ve been the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate since 1981 and have a solid mutual fanbase in Des Moines. That expectation was solidified Monday by Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register, who tweeted that officials from both the Iowa and Chicago Cubs believe the relationship will continue as is.
No official announcement yet. But I’ve spoken to people from the Chicago Cubs and Iowa Cubs. Expectation is that Iowa will remain the Triple-A affiliate for Chicago.
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) November 16, 2020
The same should be true for the South Bend Cubs, who have invested several million dollars into the ballpark and surrounding areas to build a brand that is closely aligned with the parent club. What’s more, SB Cubs owner Andrew Berlin has an ownership stake in the big league team and is on very safe ground when it comes sticking around.
There could, however, be a move from low-A to high-A as leagues shuffle around. That would prompt the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to make a corresponding move, provided they’re still in the organization as well. Given their marketing savvy and efforts to likewise align their brand with the Cubs, it would seem to be in everyone’s best interest to keep that going.
The Tennessee Smokies are also likely to remain in the fold for many of the same reasons. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.