Here are the updated affiliations:
Eugene Emeralds - San Francisco Giants
Everett AquaSox - Seattle Mariners
Hillsboro Hops - Arizona Diamondbacks
Spokane Indians - Colorado Rockies
Tri-City Dust Devils - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Vancouver Canadians - Toronto Blue Jays
Eugene, Spokane and Tri-City received new invites. Eugene had a long relationship with the Chicago Cubs, while Spokane had been a farm team of the Texas Rangers and Tri-City was with the Colorado Rockies. Meanwhile, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes and Boise Hawks were not extended invitations to affiliate with Major League Baseball teams and will go the independent route.
Boise will join the Pioneer League, which will now be an MLB "Partner League." MLB announced that it will initially fund the Pioneer League's operating expenses, provide scouting technology to all eight ballparks and create a procedure for player transfers to MLB organizations.
The Pioneer League has teams in Idaho Falls, Missoula, Great Falls, Billings, Colorado Springs, Ogden, Grand Junction and Windsor (Colorado).
It's unknown what the plans that Salem-Keizer will have in regards to joining an independent league at this time, but ownership has said is that they are committed to continue to bringing high caliber baseball to that area because "this community deserves it," said Volcanoes CEO Mickey Walker.
While the Pioneer League will have a 92-game season that will start in May, the Northwest League will now be a "High-A" league and will go to a 132-game season that will start in April.
A "High-A" minor league will feature players with better ability who will eventually be called up to MLB sooner, which will make for better baseball.
A unique situation will exist in Eugene where the Emeralds and the University of Oregon share PK Park. The stadium belongs to the University. However, there is a strong relationship between the University and the Emeralds so possible schedule conflicts would not be a problem.
First and foremost, let's hope that 2021 will bring minor league baseball back to cities that are fortunate to have teams and try our best to forget 2020, a year that'll be worth forgetting. You know why.
Bill Crawford is a long-time Eugene radio personality and freelance sportscaster who happens to love the game of baseball. The opinions expressed are strictly his. You can find him on most social media platforms.