Readying For The Affiliation Shuffle
Which Teams Will Be Available This Fall
It certainly does not generate the same buzz as the trade deadline or
the offseason hot stove league. But if you're interested in which
prospects will be coming to your hometown minor league ballpark, then
the bi-annual minor league affiliation shuffle is for you.
Every other September, the bulk of minor league teams are free to pursue
new big league affiliates (and vice-versa). Teams sign two- or
four-year player development contracts (PDC), with the latest batch set
to expire after this season. Teams are free to extend PDCs with their
current affiliate at any point, but cannot begin negotiating with a new
team until early September.
The status of each team's player development contract is updated here
—81 teams have PDCs expiring after this season.
A few storylines to keep an eye on before September arrives:
• What will happen in Round Rock?
The Triple-A Express is one of 13 Pacific Coast League teams whose PDC
will expire after this season. In the past, there had been little reason
to think Round Rock would not re-up with the Astros—the two have been
linked since the Express was born as a Double-A Texas League club in
2000, a relationship that was extended when Round Rock joined the PCL in
However, that relationship could come to an end this fall. If Express
owner Nolan Ryan and his partner Chuck Greenberg successfully purchase
the Texas Rangers—which has become a big if recently—then it would seem
likely Ryan would link the Rangers with Round Rock. That move would, in
turn, create a vacancy in Oklahoma City, whose AT&T Bricktown
Ballpark is among the nicest facilities in the minors.
* What will Richmond do?
three Double-A Eastern League teams are up for grabs, but the newly
relocated Flying Squirrels may be looking to hook up with the nearby
Washington Nationals. Richmond's PDC with the Giants expires after this
season, as does the Nationals' deal with Harrisburg. A union between the
Nats and Flying Squirrels makes sense for both sides—it would give
Richmond a relationship with the "hometown" team while helping
Washington expand its base of fans further south.
One issue could be if the Nationals are willing to leave Harrisburg,
which now plays in a completely renovated ballpark, to move to Richmond
and the aging Diamond facility. Richmond ownership did sink $1.5 million
into facility renovations last offseason (including a new clubhouse)
and could assure the Nats that more improvements are on the way.
Nationals president Stan Kasten recently took in a Flying Squirrels' game
, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported.
• California League Confusion:
California League has yet to settle a pair of uncertain situations. The
Rangers' four-year deal in Bakersfield expires after this season and
the team is unlikely to return after promised renovations to aging Sam
Lynn Ballpark were not completed. The ballpark no longer meets Minor
League Baseball facility standards but the local government is unable to
fund the necessary repairs. League officials have been looking for a
solution, including relocating the team, but no deals appear to be on
the immediate horizon. It is likely that the last high Class A affiliate
standing will end up in Bakersfield.
Meanwhile, High Desert owner Bobby Brett has yet to find a buyer for the
Mavericks—he has to sell the team after purchasing fellow Cal League
club Rancho Cucamonga last season. Further complicating matters, the
team's lease on Mavericks Stadium with the city of Adelanto expires
after this season and no deal has been reached.