As Major League Baseball continues to reorganize its player development structure for the 2021 season and beyond, perhaps Wednesday’s news was inevitable.
The long-rumored elimination of the New York-Penn League and the Class A Short Season level as a whole became official, leading to the loss of three New England-based clubs -- the Lowell Spinners, Vermont Lake Monsters and Norwich Sea Unicorns -- from the affiliated ranks.
All 30 MLB clubs will have just four full-season affiliates going forward, fielding one each at the Triple-A, Double-A, Advanced-A and Low-A levels. Each parent club extended invitations to potential affiliates on Wednesday, marking the first step towards what the affiliated minors will look like in 2021.
The Spinners had been affiliated with the Boston Red Sox since they moved to Lowell from Elmira, N.Y., in 1996, but the team that was once one of the nation’s top minor league brands, sold out every game from 1999 through August of 2010, and excited fans with countless wacky promotions and the presence of more than 100 eventual big leaguers will be left out of the team’s minor league structure at least for next season.