The Milwaukee Brewers closed on a purchase of the Carolina Mudcats (High A; Carolina League), and the team’s acquisition of MiLB affiliates may not be done.
This is not a surprise; in February we had reported that the Brewers and team owner Steve Bryant has been negotiating a sale of the team. Bryant has been open about selling a stake in the Mudcats for several years now, and former MLB affiliates have reportedly discussed buying the team after an affiliation deal took place. For the Brewers, owning a High-A team means controlling a destiny, as several MLB teams–Houston, Atlanta and St. Louis, for example–own a share or all of one of more minor-league affiliates. Because so many MLB teams own a High-A affiliate (look at the Florida State League, which has a majority of MLB owners), it’s hard to control your destiny at that important level.
“We have been very pleased with the Mudcats affiliation as it provides an excellent level of competition and first-class facilities at a key development level in our farm system,” Brewers GM David Stearns said in a press release announcing the purchase. “Moving into an ownership position will give us an opportunity to continue to enhance what is already a first-class operation on both the business and baseball sides.”
The purchase has already been approved by the Carolina League.
The team will be able to make a splash under the new ownership, as the Mudcats are slated to host the 2018 Carolina League All-Star Classic. The 2018 All-Star Classic will be the third All-Star event held by the Mudcats at Five County Stadium since the club’s arrival in Zebulon in 1991. It will also be the first for the Mudcats in the club’s Carolina League era of play, as the first two were Southern League all-star fetes.
This may not be Milwaukee’s last foray into MiLB ownership, as there has been talk of the team partnering with an existing MiLB owner on the purchase of another affiliate. Those talks may take a while, however.
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