The Chicago Cubs and Tennessee Smokies announced an extension to their Player Development Contract (PDC) for the maximum possible term of four years. The agreement means the Smokies will be the Cubs' Double-A affiliate through the 2018 season.
The Smokies have enjoyed some of the top talent in the Minor Leagues in the past two seasons, including top Cubs and sixth-best overall prospect Javier Baez in 2013, as well as the second-best Cubs farmhand and No. eight overall prospect in Kris Bryant this year. In total, 35 Smokies have gone on to make their Major League debuts with the Cubs and play in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, including mainstays Jeff Samardzija, Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Welington Castillo.
Since beginning their affiliation with the Cubs in 2007, Tennessee has posted a 553-485 record (.533) as of June 10, with six of seven completed seasons ending with a winning record. Not only is the .533 winning percentage best among all affiliates in Smokies history, but the team has also participated in Southern League postseason play in five of seven campaigns, advancing to the Championship Series in three of those seasons.
Typically, PDC's are extended for two or four years at a time, though in some cases they are not extended at all. At the end of the 2018 season, the Smokies will have been affiliated with the Cubs for 12 seasons, which would mark the second-longest such stretch for the Smokies. Tennessee was affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays for 23 seasons between 1980 through 2002.