As the offseason gets off to a start, plenty of changes are going on behind the scenes. This includes the sometimes overlooked minor league systems, which are seeing a vast amount of alterations. In the Red Sox case, the PawSox are nearing a relocation, while the Lowell Spinners could be removed altogether.
Pawtucket Red Sox
The Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, has been in Rhode Island since it formed in 1970. Despite nearing bankruptcy in 1977, they have managed to win four league titles and seven division titles. But now they are on the move to Worcester, Massachusetts.
Last May, the Pawsox and the City proposed an $83 million stadium to replace 77-year-old McCoy stadium. The plan was passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly and signed by Governor Gina Raimondo in June. However, that stadium plan was rejected by the PawSox ownership, and shortly after the PawSox announced the move. They have seen a massive rebranding, starting with a nickname change from PawSox to WooSox.
The move will be to Polar Park, an under-construction $100 million stadium that will open in 2021 and seat 10,000. While the switch has angered some, as a whole the move will change little besides the obvious stadium and training facility improvements. Worcester hasn't hosted a Minor League team since the 1930's, but this move is expected to bring increased revenue to the triple-A club thanks to Worcester's much larger population. Many within the organization are excited about the change, especially team owner Larry Lucchino.
"We felt an enormous sense of welcome and civic pride, and we have felt that the people of Worcester and the people of Massachusetts will welcome us with open arms," said Lucchino. "This has been a tough process, but we look forward to buckling up and having a hell of a ride with Worcester, Massachusetts, and this grand ballpark."
The Lowell Spinners and the Red Sox have been affiliated for almost 25 years, winning four titles (08', 09', 16', 19') in that time. Unfortunately, this impactful relationship could end under the reorganization proposal from the MLB.
Many important current and former Red Sox players have at one point been at Lowell. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, Brandon Workman, and Kevin Youkilis all found themselves with the Spinners at one point. Luckily, because the MLB views the Edward A. LeLacheur Park (the Spinners home) as satisfactory, the franchise should continue to exist. They would be moved to the “Dream League,’’ an MLB concept similar to the independent leagues for college.
The Red Sox have stated they will fight the decision in hopes of retaining affiliation with their longtime partners. Just being affiliated with the Red Sox has brought in an enormous amount of revenue, which has allowed for them to upgrade the stadium and its facilities. Without the connection, fans might be less willing to watch games without the chance of seeing a future Boston Red Sox player.
Other New England minor league teams are also on the chopping block, like Detroit Tiger's affiliate Connecticut Tigers, and Oakland Athletics affiliate Vermont Lake Monsters. The future is still very uncertain for this plan, and at this point anything could happen.