The Idaho Falls Chukars will remain an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals for another two years.
The Chukars and Royals announced Wednesday they have extended their player development contract through the 2014 season. And the new deal comes with a promise to improve the quality of the Idaho Falls club.
Chukars general manager Kevin Greene said he and the Royals have reached an agreement that will place Idaho Falls on top rung of the Royals’ three short-season clubs.
The Royals added a third short-season club in Burlington, N.C. in 2007. Most Major League teams field only two short-season clubs. The 2007 season was the last time the Chukars qualified for the Pioneer League playoffs, partially due to the Royals splitting talent between three short-season clubs.
“Our concern with the Royals has only been what can we do to offer our fans winning baseball?” Greene said. “Operationally, the Royals are great people to work with. There’s never been anything there that made us want to second-guess the extension. It was all about what can we do to offer our fans a winning team.”
Instead of Royals farmhands starting in the Arizona League and then getting sent to both Idaho Falls and the Burlington Royals in the Appalachian League, Greene said players will funnel up from both Arizona and Burlington to Idaho Falls before advancing to full-season baseball in the Low-A Midwest League.
The more experienced players should make Idaho Falls more competitive, Greene said.
The Royals approached Greene several weeks ago about extending their relationship with Idaho Falls. Greene said he had to wait for the club’s owner, Dave Elmore, to return from the Olympics and expressed a concern over the level of players the Royals have sent Idaho Falls in recent years.
Greene said the Royals proposed the idea of placing Idaho Falls on the top rung of its three short-season teams to entice the Chukars to remain in their system. Previously, the Royals have treated Idaho Falls and the Pioneer League as equally as strong as the Burlington and the Appalachian League.
Greene said he has no reason to believe the Royals won’t live up to their word.
“I’m dealing with guys that I’ve worked with for a number of years,” Greene said. “They certainly have integrity. If they say that’s the promise they’re going to make, I have no reason to second-guess that.”
Idaho Falls first became a Royals affiliate in 2004, when it switched its mascot to the Chukars. The new contract will extend their relationship into its 11th year in 2014.
The Royals also announced Wednesday they also have extended their relationship with Burlington, N.C.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to continue our relationships with both Idaho Falls and Burlington,” said Royals’ Director of Minor League Operations Scott Sharp in a news release. “We are fortunate to have tremendous ownership and front office staffs along with great facilities in both cities to assist us in developing the next wave of Major League players.”