CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Wheelers club of the Class A South Atlantic League says it has signed a player development agreement with the National League Chicago Cubs.
A two-year pact covers the 1988 and 1989 seasons and each party retains options for one-year contracts afterward, Wheelers owner Dennis Bastien said.
Bastien also owns the Winston-Salem Spirits of the Class A Carolina League, another Chicago Cub farm club.
The Cubs' six 1987 minor league clubs finished with an overall record of 374-328 for a winning percentage of .533, the seventh best among major league organizations.
The addition of Charleston to the Cubs' minor league system makes Chicago and St. Louis the only major league teams with seven minor league clubs.
"The Chicago Cubs are one of the finest major league organizations in America," Bastien said. "We have worked with them the past three years and are truly proud of our relationship. We now want to turn Watt Powell Park into a one-sixth scale Wrigley Field."
Bastien had said in August that the Cubs were not interested in acquiring a team in Charleston but said Wednesday the Cubs changed their mind during an organizational meeting in late August and decided to add another Class A team.
Bastien said the Montreal Expos and three other organizations with teams in the South Atlantic League had expressed interest in Charleston.
Bastien said the Cubs would name a manager for the Wheelers in late January or early February. Hal Dyer managed the team to a 66-73 record in 1987, the Wheelers' first year.
The Wheelers, a co-op team until last Wednesday, finished one-half game back in the race for the first-half title and had the third-best overall record in the league.
The team drew 97,517 at Watt Powell Park. Bastien said he still is pursuing attempts to switch Charleston to the Carolina League and Winston-Salem to the South Atlantic League.