After 20 years of affiliation, the Twins and the New Britain Rock Cats are no more. The two teams officially severed ties last week when the Twins did not renew their affiliation agreement, and when the Rock Cats quickly signed a new deal with the Colorado Rockies, it was clear there would be no getting back together.
On Wednesday, the Twins signed a new 4-year agreement with the Chattanooga Lookouts, who will now be the organization's Double-A affiliate.
It is not uncommon for teams to change minor league affiliates, and the split between the Twins and the Rock Cats appears to have been amicable. Terry Ryan cited uncertainty of the team's future home as the reason for the Twins not renewing their affiliation by last Thursday's deadline. "I don't think anybody knows if they're going to move to Hartford," Ryan told the Pioneer Press. "That's about the only reason we severed is there's a lot of uncertainty with the affiliate right now. The new owners are fantastic. That's not the issue. Everything is fine, but there's a lot of uncertainty."
Instead, Twins prospects will be playing for the Lookouts, who certainly play in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. The team is a member of the Southern League, and were affiliated with the Washington Senators from 1932 to 1959. Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, and Jim Kaat all once played for the Lookouts.
In the big picture, the move does not change much for the Twins. Perhaps the biggest impact of the move is that Chattanooga is much further from the team's AAA club in Rochester than New Britain was. Chattanooga also has warmer weather than New Britain, particularly for the early parts of the season.