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OGDEN — After more than a year of speculation, it appears the Los Angeles Dodgers' relationship with the Ogden Raptors is over.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the World Series-champion Dodgers are dropping their affiliation with the Raptors after 17 years. It comes as the minor league baseball landscape rapidly changes.
The report also comes a year after a massive minor league baseball overhaul included a plan to drop 42 minor league clubs from the Minor League Baseball system. Both the Raptors and Orem Owlz, a Pioneer League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, were listed on that report.
The plan led to a bipartisan letter from Congress to MLB to reconsider dropping baseball teams from smaller cities and towns all over the U.S. But in the end, MLB assumed control of Minor League Baseball at the end of September, taking over after a century of the two sides being separate entities.
MLB trimmed the minor league system to 120 teams and eliminated short-season leagues like the Pioneer League.
Since then, major league teams have announced a slew of affiliation changes across all levels of minor league baseball.
For example, the Houston Chronicle reported this week that the Houston Astros will move their new Triple-A affiliate relationship from Round Rock to the former independent league Sugar Land Skeeters. The Washington Nationals announced Thursday they had moved their Triple-A partnership from Fresno, California, to Rochester, New York. And the New York Yankees dropped affiliations with teams Staten Island and Trenton, New Jersey — just to name a few.
Neither the Dodgers nor Raptors have confirmed the Los Angeles Times report. The Raptors, along with all of minor league baseball, did not play this season due to COVID-19.
The Raptors club has played in Ogden since 1994. It became a Dodgers affiliate in 2003. Some of the athletes who played for the team include 2020 World Series MVP Corey Seager and 2019 National League MVP Cody Bellinger.
The team's owner and president, Dave Baggott, released a video on Nov. 2 in which he acknowledged the Raptors were still awaiting its fate with the Dodgers at that time. He promised that even if it lost its affiliation with MLB, there would still be baseball played in Ogden next year as long as COVID-19 didn't derail another season.
"We do know one thing: We're going to play as a professional baseball league no matter what," he said in the video. "We certainly would like to do it under the Major League Baseball umbrella with their permission and their blessings, but who knows what will happen."
As for the Owlz, the Angels haven't revealed their minor league plans yet, and there aren't any reports to date about their future. The organization also has a Triple-A affiliation with the Salt Lake Bees, which extends through 2022.
MLB has paved a way to breathe new life for minor league cities that may lose an affiliation this offseason. The Associated Press reported last month that MLB was looking to keep around cities that lost MLB affiliation for other baseball projects.
MLB announced the Appalachian League — a league similar to the Pioneer League — will be converted to a summer circuit for the country's top underclassmen college players.