Rangers agree to buy new affiliate in N.C.

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have agreed to purchase a Class A Advanced franchise in the Carolina League that will play in Kinston, N.C., beginning next season.

The Rangers' franchise will join another new one in the Carolina League in 2017, as Kinston will host Minor League baseball for the first time since 2011. For the past two seasons, the Rangers' Class A Advanced team has been High Desert in the California League.

The agreement to purchase the new franchise is still subject to the approval of Minor League Baseball and the review of Major League Baseball.

"The Texas Rangers are very happy to be bringing baseball back to the great City of Kinston," said Neil Leibman, chairman of the Texas Rangers Ownership Committee, in a club statement. "We want to thank Minor League Baseball and the Kinston leadership for helping us to make this a reality for 2017."

The new franchise in Kinston will play at Grainger Stadium, which has hosted Carolina League baseball for nearly 50 years dating back to 1962. The Rangers are planning a renovation of the home and visiting clubhouses, weight room and concession stands for the 4,100-seat stadium to be completed in time for next season.

"We are excited about creating the best fan experience possible at Grainger Stadium, and we look forward to working with the City of Kinston and its residents to make this a top Carolina League franchise," Leibman said.

The Indians were the last team to have a Carolina League affiliate in Kinston, from 1987-2011. The Rangers and the City of Kinston will hold a ceremony on Thursday at Grainger Stadium to celebrate the new franchise.

"Baseball has been synonymous with Kinston for many decades," said B.J. Murphy, Mayor of Kinston, in the club statement. "We are very grateful to the Texas Rangers organization for bringing professional baseball back home to historic Grainger Stadium where folks from all over eastern North Carolina will enjoy America's favorite pastime once again."

The franchise will officially be Rangers Kinston LLC, with the Rangers owning the controlling interest. Cam McRae, the former majority owner of the Indians' Minor League affiliate in Kinston, will be a limited partner as well.

The Rangers are still in the process of hiring a general manager and other day-to-day staff for the franchise.

Ryan Posner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Texas. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.