No Cubs-Kane County resolution yet
The Cubs wasted little time Tuesday renewing one minor league affiliate and coming to terms with another.
The Kane County Cougars were not one of them, and that situation may take a few days to play itself out, with the Cougars appearing to be no better than an even shot to remain the Cubs' Midwest League affiliate.
The Cubs announced they had renewed their agreement with Class AAA Iowa for two more seasons and that they had left Class A Daytona in the Florida State League for Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League.
The Daily Herald on Monday reported it was only a 50-50 chance the Cubs would renew their Player Development Contract with the Cougars, who last Saturday won the Midwest League championship.
The Cougars have been the Cubs' Class A affiliate for the past two seasons, and the arrangement seemed like a match made in heaven, with Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva being within an hour's drive of Wrigley Field.
Cubs management members are able to get to Kane County quickly to watch prospects, and they've been able to send major-league players there for injury-rehab assignments.
However, sources have said the Cubs have wanted improvements made to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The Cougars earlier this month put out a news release announcing a capital-improvement project that would add covered batting cages and expanded video and weight rooms. Cubs president Theo Epstein made his first public comments on the subject Tuesday. His thoughts on the proposed improvements were interesting.
"Nothing's been decided yet," Epstein said. "There are some things we've been asking for, for a while now. I read that news release, too. They're good people. They're making a push here to do some things.
"It just goes back to what's best for the players. We're looking around for the best fit for development purposes. A big part of that is the facilities."
The Cougars' release states that the baseball-related improvements will be "built to Cubs specifications," but that phrase may be open to interpretation.
The Cubs also terminated their contract with Boise of the short-season Class A Northwest League. They may return to either Boise or Kane County, but they now have the option of seeking other affiliations.
The Cubs seem unlikely to return to Boise. If they don't renew with Kane County, the other leading option may be South Bend, Indiana, where the ballpark is getting a major makeover.
As for Daytona, Epstein cited weather problems, in the form of frequent rain, as one reason for switching to Myrtle Beach.
"The Carolina League, in our opinion, is the best high-A league for development purposes," he said. "These are tough decisions. In the end, we just coming back to what's best for our players, for our minor league players and their development.
"That's what it's about. Sometimes it can get sticky. We just have to do what's best for our players. We think the Carolina League and Myrtle in particular is a great spot for our players."