CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – There was nothing nefarious here. The Cedar Rapids Kernels still like the Los Angeles Angels and appreciated having a relationship with them for the last 20 years.
The decision to go into the affiliation free-agency pool was strictly about geography.
"We were not disappointed at all about anything with the Angels," Kernels President Gary Keoppel said Sunday, the first day the public gag order known as baseball's "Rule 56" was relaxed. "But I think you saw that there were a number of teams in the Midwest League, seven, that decided to go into the pool. We determined as a club that this was a good time for us to try and get a Midwest affiliate.
"That was important, the main reason we are in the pool."
Free agent major-league and minor-league teams in "the pool" could officially begin contacting each other Sunday and negotiate Player Development Contracts for the 2013 season. The Kernels are one of nine Class A teams without a partner, one of seven in the MWL.
Available major league teams are the Twins, Athletics, Padres, Nationals, Royals, Astros, Cubs and Cardinals. Well, and the Angels, of course.
Class A teams without an affiliate are Cedar Rapids, Beloit, Burlington, Fort Wayne, Kane County, Peoria and Quad Cities in the Midwest League, and Hagerstown and Lexington in the South Atlantic League.
It is believed the Cubs and Kane County will eventually hook up, which takes the biggest potential prize, if you will, away from the Kernels. The Cardinals reportedly decided to part ways with Quad Cities last week, and would make complete sense in Cedar Rapids, though it is believed they will wind up in Peoria, where they have had a prior relationship.
The Kernels are believed to be highly interested in the Minnesota Twins, and sources said Twins brass is expected in town Monday to speak with the Kernels. Keoppel could not confirm or deny that because of Major League Baseball rules.
The Twins have been in Beloit, but that is widely considered the worst place to be in the 16-city Midwest League because of poor facilities and low attendance. Speaking of attendance, the Kernels had their lowest this season since entering the newer Veterans Memorial Stadium in 2002, which may have factored into the decision to find a new major league club to provide players for them.
The two-week negotiation period in minor-league baseball runs through Sept. 30. All PDCs at every level must be agreed to and signed by Oct. 7.
Sources said the Kernels could announce their new affiliation sometime this week.
"This is an entirely new process for us, and we're learning as we go along," Keoppel said. "There are many people who haven't even been on the board of directors for 20 years. But, yes, we would like to get it done and nailed down as quickly as we can."
In the over 100 years of professional baseball in Cedar Rapids, the local clubs has been affiliated with the Angels, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.