Lights brighten up Smith's Ballpark during what would've been the Salt Lake Bees' opening day, Thursday, April 9, 2020 in Salt Lake City. (Courtesy photo: Scott Taylor)

Scott Taylor

Salt Lake Bees, Los Angeles Angels to remain partners through 2030 in new 'Triple-A West'

By Carter Williams, | Updated - Feb. 12, 2021 at 1:36 p.m. | Posted - Feb. 12, 2021 at 12:47 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Bees will remain with the Los Angeles Angels for another decade as a part of the finalized overhaul of baseball's minor league structure.

The Bees became the Angels' affiliate in 2001. Since then, players like Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and Jered Weaver have made stops in Utah before becoming MLB stars. The Angels previously announced in December they would retain Salt Lake as their Triple-A affiliate, but Friday's announcement extends that agreement long term.

"We are proud that the next generation of Angels stars will continue to call Smith's Ballpark and Salt Lake City home for years to come," said Angels general manager Perry Minasian, in a statement.

While the Angels will stay through the 2030 season, the team's announcement Friday signaled the end of the Pacific Coast League, which had a history that dated back to 1903.

The Bees announced that they will participate in the West Division of the Triple-A West League. The division also includes Las Vegas (affiliated with the Oakland Athletics), Reno (Arizona Diamondbacks), Sacramento (San Francisco Giants) and Tacoma (Seattle Mariners). The East Division of the league includes Albuquerque (Colorado Rockies), El Paso (San Diego Padres), Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers), Round Rock (Texas Rangers) and Sugarland (Houston Astros).

Friday's announcement came as MLB, which now oversees the Minor League Baseball, officially unveiled the 120 teams competing in the MiLB structure this year. MLB officials said that major offseason realignments mean the average Triple-A ballclub is now 200 miles closer to its Major League team.

In addition to "better geographical alignment," MLB also said that minor league salaries will be bumped 38% to 72% in 2021. Other perks include "modernized facility standards better suited for professional athletes," "improved amenities and working conditions for players and staff" and "reduced in-season travel for players and coaches."

MLB also announced the creation of Triple-A East that will consist of a few former Pacific Coast League teams and what was previously the International League. Iowa (Chicago Cubs), Memphis (St. Louis Cardinals), Omaha (Kansas City Royals) and Nashville (Milwaukee Brewers) are among former PCL teams no longer in the same league as the Bees.

It's unclear what the changes mean for the Bees' schedule. Team officials said Friday that its 2021 schedule, coaching staff, roster and ticket information will be announced in the future.

The change came after last year's minor league season was canceled due to COVID-19, which was then followed by the massive overhaul to the minor league system.

The Bees maintained their affiliation with the Angels, while Utah's other two minor league teams: the Ogden Raptors and Orem Owlz were dropped from the Minor League Baseball structure last fall. The Owlz also announced they have relocated to Colorado.

Both teams will remain in the Pioneer League, which transitioned to a baseball league unaffiliated to the MLB or MiLB but will have some support from Major League Baseball.

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