On Wednesday morning, the Chicago Cubs announced they had reached a deal with Sinclair Broadcasting to launch a brand new, dedicated cable network starting in February of next year. There are several possible side-effects from this particular move. Perhaps the biggest is that the deal could end up starting a trend in Major League Baseball, one of the only major sports that doesn't have a restrictive contract with the entire league when it comes to what networks can carry a team.

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Trendsetting Cubs

Major League Baseball does have contracts with networks like MLB TV, ESPN, and Fox to televise general games on certain days, at certain times. For the games not broadcast on those networks, it's largely up to the individual teams to work out contracts with local networks. The Cubs have had an agreement with two local Chicago networks, including a 70-year relationship with WGN that will come to an end in 2020 with this deal. The Sinclair Network, which does not yet have an official name, will be the only home for Cubs games starting next season.

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If this deal becomes a lucrative one, we could see more MLB teams start looking for similar, pay channel networks

Chicago Cubs could see free agent money rolling in

One of the most frustrating aspects of the 2018 offseason, for Cubs fans, has been the relatively small moves the team has made. In an offseason when one of the best outfielders in Bryce Harper and one of the best infielders in the game in Manny Machado are both free agents, Theo Epstein appears completely uninterested.

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The team has claimed it wanted to change it's roster a bit through trades, but facts say otherwise.

The inaction has been explained away largely because the team just doesn't have the money to make a massive splash in the free agent market this year. For those worried this is a trend that will continue past the 2018 offseason, this new cable network should add a bit of a calming influence. As the Chicago Tribune points out, Sinclair and the Chicago Cubs will need to convince cable companies to carry the network, but once they do that, it could be incredibly lucrative.

Team President of Business Operations Crane Kenney laid this out as the key reason the Cubs have decided to make this move in the first place. "As those games come to cable, which is generally a more lucrative place for games to air, there’s an assumption that the team would benefit from [higher license fees]." If those license fees do begin rolling in, and they would be rolling in quickly, the Chicago Cubs would be hard pressed to claim poverty when it comes to free agents moving forward.

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