Brewers take over ownership of Class A Mudcats

Brewers take over ownership of Class A Mudcats

MILWAUKEE -- Weary of playing musical chairs with Minor League teams, the Brewers on Tuesday became the latest Major League franchise to purchase an affiliate outright.

The Brewers have bought a full ownership stake in the Carolina Mudcats, a team in the Class A Advanced Carolina League based in Zebulon, N.C. The traction already closed and has been approved by the league.

"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 statement 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."

It marks the Brewers' first foray into ownership of a full-season Minor League franchise. Other organizations -- the Braves, Cardinals and Yankees among them -- have long held similar stakes, removing the possibility of losing a favorable affiliation when player development contracts expire.

Those agreements, known as PDCs, typically cover two seasons at a time. The Brewers entered a PDC with the Mudcats following the 2016 season, after their previous "high A" affiliate, the Brevard County Manatees, moved to a Kissimmee, Fla. and affiliated with the Braves. The Brewers' other PDCs all run through at least 2018. They will have a change at the Triple-A level after next season, when the Colorado Springs club is moving to San Antonio and is widely expected to partner with the Rangers, leaving the Brewers to search elsewhere. The same ownership group runs the Brewers' rookie-level affiliate in Helena, Mont., and will bring that team to Colorado Springs, where it will remain in the Pioneer League.

The Brewers have a PDC with Double-A Biloxi and Class A Wisconsin through 2020. Both teams play in top-notch facilities.

The history of the Mudcats in North Carolina dates back to 1991, when the team was a Double-A club in the Southern League. In 2012, they joined the Carolina League as a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Paired with the Brewers for 2017, a prospect-laden team went 73-65 and missed the playoffs by one game.

Prior to the purchase, Steve Bryant was majority owner of the Carolina franchise.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.