Cubs working on Kane County move an MLB violation?
While fans wait for the Theo Epstein rebuilding process to take shape, come next year, a short trip to Geneva could allow a glimpse into the organization's future.
Although the Kane County Cougars organization has refused to comment, a report published Tuesday has the Chicago Cubs Class A minor league affiliate headed to Kane County.
Anonymous sources have told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Cubs "are in the process of working out a player development agreement with the Kane County Cougars in an effort to move their Midwest League affiliate from Peoria — putting those Class A players 120 miles closer to Chicago."
Scott Sharp, the Kansas City Royals director of minor league operations, said it is against Major League Baseball policy for teams to talk with potential new affiliates at this time and wouldn't comment on the situation.
The rule stipulates that a major league club cannot notify any party of its intent to cut ties with a minor league club until the end of the minor league season, and cannot begin negotiations with a new club until Sept. 16.
A violation of the rule would result in a $500,000 fine for major league teams and a $100,000 fine for minor league teams.
A report by the Peoria Journal Star says the Chiefs organization was unaware of any talks between the Cubs and Kane County.
"It definitely caught us off guard," Chiefs president Rocky Vonachen told pjstar.com. "It's the first we've heard anything like that."
A statement released by the Cougars cited Major League Baseball rules in denying comment on the report.
If the report is true and the Cubs affiliate, which currently plays in Peoria, heads to Kane County, the move will not only allow fans access to see prospects such as Jorge Soler and Albert Almora next spring, but will allow the team to send players down for rehab starts with ease.
Both affiliates in Kane County and Peoria reach the end of their Player Development Agreements at the end of this season. The Cougars became affiliated with the Kansas City Royals after ending an eight-year run with the Oakland Athletics, and the Peoria Chiefs have spent the last eight seasons with the Cubs. The Cubs' relationship with Peoria, however, began in the 1980s.
Local Kane County officials were unaware of the possible move until Tuesday's report, including the president of the Kane County Forest Preserve District, which owns the land.
John Hoscheit, who is also a county board member, said the forest preserve district would not be involved in any discussions about changing affiliates, but the Cougars typically notify the district if/when a change in affiliation occurs.
"Kansas City actually has a really good minor league team," Hoscheit said. "But given all the changes with the Cubs recently, I think there's some renewed interest and attention on their minor leagues. That would be something that would, theoretically be a positive. Whoever is there, we'd be happy to have them."
If the Cubs' Class A affiliate does make the move north, the team will play in a similarly sized stadium, but will undoubtedly play in front of nearly twice the number of fans if attendance records for the two remain constant.
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