Sam Spence file photo

The Charleston RiverDogs announced a player development contract Tuesday with the Tampa Bay Rays, a team with a history of cultivating major league talent like Josh Hamilton, Carl Crawford, Roccol Baldelli and Delmon Young.

“The RiverDogs are thrilled to welcome home the defending American League Champion Rays,” Jeff Goldklang, president of the RiverDogs’ ownership group, said in a press release. “The quality of prospects and on-field success of their farm teams is unmatched, and we can’t wait for our fans and partners to enjoy the Rays experience.”

The two have been linked in the past, before the RiverDogs signed on with the New York Yankees. That partnership, however, ended in November this year, opening the two up for a new opportunity to work together after the 1997-2004 deal.

The Rays are one of Major League Baseball’s most dynamic franchises, according to a press release from the RiverDogs, known for consistent on-field excellence. The club’s focus on player development is considered the gold standard in Major League Baseball.

The new agreement is a part of sweeping minor league changes that include slashing between 25 and 33 percent of teams below Class A level to cut costs and trim travel schedules in light of hardships brought on by the pandemic.

RiverDogs fans can still expect the same entertainment at the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park according to a press release, despite the change in partnership. Fan-favorite promotions like dog days, $1 beers, Segra Club events and more aren’t going anywhere.

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