Bulls extend long-running partnership with Tampa Bay for at least ten more years
The Durham Bulls have announced they have accepted their invitation to continue as the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays after signing Major League Baseball’s Professional Development License (PDL). The 10-year agreement extends the Bulls’ long-running partnership with Tampa Bay through the 2030 season.
“Today is an exciting day for the Durham Bulls organization and baseball fans throughout the Triangle,” said Mike Birling, Durham Bulls Vice President – Baseball Operations. “Our 23-year partnership with the Rays is unmatched at the Triple-A level on and off the field and we are both committed to making sure that continues.”
The upcoming 2021 campaign will be the 23rd season of affiliation between the Bulls and Rays. Tampa Bay is the only Major League club Durham has been affiliated with since becoming a Triple-A team in 1998, and the Bulls are the lone Triple-A affiliate in Rays’ franchise history.
In that time frame, the Bulls have posted a 1,688-1,456 record (.537), including 18 winning seasons in 22 tries. Durham has also earned 16 postseason berths, winning six league championships, and Triple-A National Championship titles in 2009 and 2017.
“Since our first season as a professional organization, the Durham Bulls have been an integral part of our development process,” said Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations & General Manager. “The city of Durham, the Bulls staff and the constant support throughout The Triangle have established an optimal environment for our players to prepare themselves for the big leagues. Our partnership remains as strong as ever after 20-plus years, and we couldn’t be happier to have them as our Triple-A affiliate as we begin the newest phase of minor league player development.”
Entering the 2021 season, Tampa Bay has been unanimously tabbed as the best farm system in baseball, with publications including MLB.com, Baseball America and The Athletic in agreement. MLB.com also ranks eight Rays minor leaguers among the top 100 prospects, including the best overall prospect in infielder Wander Franco.
Under the new PDL structure, minor league baseball will feature 120 teams competing across four levels, Triple-A, Double-A, High-A and Low-A, a change from the previous structure that included 160 clubs competing across six levels. The Rays farm system is rounded out by the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits, High-A Charleston RiverDogs, and Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods.
More news regarding Durham’s 2021 schedule, league structure, coaching staff, and roster, in addition to ticketing information, will be announced soon.
Thanks to DBBC’s Emily Almond for this Capcom story & photo.