The majority of clubs throughout Major League Baseball have already announced that they’ve renewed their player development contracts with their Triple-A affiliates, but there are still five clubs that don’t have a clear plan in place just yet. Notably, the Astros and the Fresno Grizzles announced yesterday that they will not be renewing their partnership. As MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes, that should pave the way for the ’Stros to land in Round Rock (where they previously had their Triple-A club for a decade). Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said a return to Round Rock is “at the top of our list,” McTaggart notes, adding that the Ryan family owns the Round Rock Express.
That move, of course, would leave the Rangers searching for a new affiliate, though Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News wrote over the weekend that the Rangers could well end up in San Antonio, where a Triple-A franchise will be added as Colorado Springs loses its Triple-A designation (a move that’ll leave the Brewers, currently in Colorado Springs, looking for a new home as well). As Fraley explores, the facilities to which the Rangers could relocate in San Antonio are currently lacking, which could potentially prove detrimental in pursuing minor league free agents. However, sticking in Texas would come with greater marketing opportunities and a preexisting fan base from which to draw.
The Brewers, Nationals and Athletics are the three other clubs that are yet undecided on next year’s affiliations. The Nats will be seeking a new partner following the post-2017 announcement that the Mets had purchased the Syracuse Chiefs (securing a much-needed geographic upgrade over their current home in Las Vegas). The Athletics, in similar fashion, would reap significant geographic benefits by moving from their current home in Nashville to either Fresno or Las Vegas.
Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Journal-Review notes that the Nationals have expressed interest in moving to Nashville, while Bryant-Jon Anteola of the Fresno Bee suggests that the A’s would likely have their pick between Fresno and Las Vegas, as both would prefer to partner with the Athletics for geographic reasons, giving Oakland the advantage. That’ll present the A’s with the decision of whether to play in California or move to a newly constructed facility Vegas and seems likely to leave the Brewers with an even larger gap between their big league club and their top minor league affiliate, though they’ll be moving into improved facilities either way.