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MLB makes official plans to downsize minor league system

Oklahoma City shortstop Gavin Lux (55) limbers up in front of the dugout before leading off a 2019 Pacific Coast League game
Oklahoma City shortstop Gavin Lux (55) limbers up before leading off a triple-A Pacific Coast League game against Round Rock on Aug. 16, 2019, in Round Rock, Texas.
(Nick Wagner / For The Times)

Major League Baseball and its 30 organizations made their plans to downsize the affiliated minor league system for the 2021 season official Wednesday. Each club will have four affiliates as well as two short-season teams based at their spring training sites and complexes in the Dominican Republic, reducing the total number of affiliates from 160 to 120.

The Dodgers announced they intend to keep their top four affiliates — Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Okla.; Great Lakes, Mich.; and Rancho Cucamonga — though Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga are slated to flip levels. Great Lakes, previously the Dodgers’ low-A team, will be the high-A affiliate. Rancho Cucamonga, the Dodgers’ California League affiliate since 2011, will be the low-A club.

The Angels made more changes to their system.

They retained the Salt Lake (Utah) Bees as the triple-A affiliate and the Rocket City Trash Pandas in Alabama as the double-A team. The Inland Empire 66ers, the Angels’ California League affiliate since 2011, flipped from high-A to low-A. The Tri-City (Washington) Dust Devils took Inland Empire’s place as the Angels’ high-A outfit. The Dust Devils had been a short-season affiliate of the San Diego Padres.

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MLB told teams to proceed as if a National League designated hitter won’t be used next year, but it will be revisited this week. It could impact the Dodgers re-signing Justin Turner or Joc Pederson.

The Orem (Utah) Owlz, previously one of two domestic rookie league teams run by the Angels, were dropped from the farm system. They will relocate to Colorado to join the MLB Partner League. The Burlington (Iowa) Bees, who had been the Angels’ Class-A partner since 2013, were one of 11 full-season teams not to receive an invite.

The Dodgers cut ties with the Ogden (Utah) Raptors, their rookie-level affiliate since 2003. A previous iteration in Ogden partnered with the Dodgers from 1966 to 1973. Tom Lasorda managed that team from 1966 through 1968.

The moves are pending the affiliates accepting the invitations, which is considered a formality.

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Staff writer Maria Torres contributed to this report.


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