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New York Yankees confirm no more Charleston RiverDogs affiliation

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Major League Baseball superstar Aaron Judge is among the current New York Yankees who played minor league baseball for the Charleston RiverDogs. Provided/Charleston RiverDogs

The minor league baseball Charleston RiverDogs will have a new major league parent club for the 2021 season as a split with the New York Yankees was confirmed by the Yankees on Saturday.

The Yankees are ending player development relationships with three affiliates, including the RiverDogs of the low-level Class A South Atlantic League along with Double-A Trenton and short-season Class A Staten Island. Charleston is replaced in the Yankees' farm system by a high-level Class A team in Hudson Valley, N.Y.

RiverDogs President/General Manager Dave Echols reached Saturday would not confirm the split and said he had "no comment" on when the RiverDogs might announce a new Major League Baseball affiliate.

Such a move was not unexpected as Major League Baseball in 2020 was set to impose massive changes on minor league baseball in cost-cutting and efficiency measures to include contraction of 25 to 33 percent of minor league clubs, mostly below the Class A level. This would have altered league and affiliation structures but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced cancellation of all affiliated minor league baseball in 2020.

Changes might include the RiverDogs moving up to a high-level Class A classification.

The RiverDogs have been a Yankees affiliate since 2005, having had a working agreement with the Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays in various stints from 1980 to 2004.

While the Yankees' ties didn't produce a RiverDogs SAL championship team, many of the current Yankees players spent time in Charleston. The group includes star slugger Aaron Judge, catcher Gary Sanchez and pitchers Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery, a Sumter native who pitched at South Carolina.

The Yankees also have sent big-league players to Charleston for rehab assignments, most prominently mega-star Alex Rodriguez and also former College of Charleston outfielder Brett Gardner.

Marvin Goldklang, the RiverDogs' principal owner for three decades, is a minority owner of the Yankees. The RiverDogs' ownership group also includes actor Bill Murray.

Gene Sapakoff is the oldest, fastest, hardest-hitting sports journalist in S.C. As columnist at The Post and Courier he covers Clemson, South Carolina and other interesting things. He likes food and has won the prestigious Judson Chapman Award 3 times.

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