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03/04/09 1:54 PM EST

Keeping the Hens in the house

Tigers extend working agreement with Toledo through 2012

The Tigers will keep their Triple-A affiliate a short drive down I-75 for at least the next four seasons. Detroit has extended its working agreement with the Toledo Mud Hens through 2012.

It's an agreement that has worked out well for both sides in recent years. The Hens were part of the Twins' farm system for the first half of the 1980s before linking up again with the Tigers in 1987. The pairing made logical sense given the short distance between the teams, but the deal has proven to be beneficial, talent-wise, this decade while the Tigers worked to improve their player development and scouting. In addition, the Hens' move to a new downtown ballpark in 2002 has made it a destination, of sorts, for Minor League free agents.

The combination ended a long postseason drought for the Hens when they won the International League's West Division title in 2002. They soon started a run of postseason appearances. Toledo won back-to-back International League Governors' Cup championships in 2005 and 2006, as well as another division crown in 2007.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.