Wally Backman, as quoted by the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington after the Bisons finished up with the Pawtucket Red Sox on Sunday:
“It’s a shame for us, really. Buffalo is a great city but I don’t envision us coming back, from the things I’ve heard from the grapevine.”
Again, after last Friday’s news that the Rochester Red Wings will reupp with the Minnesota Twins, Buffalo is the only International League team with an expiring Player Development Contract. If the Mets cannot mend their relationship with the Bisons in the next few weeks, they will be Pacific Coast League bound.
There’s a sense in which it is surprising to hear Wally Backman become the first Mets person to speak definitively on the topic. He was answering a question from Harrington honestly, but I wonder how that will play among his bosses.
To answer something that popped up in the comment section again on Friday, it’s not like the Mets can just promote the Brooklyn Cyclones to AAA status. There are only 30 businesses in America licensed to run AAA teams, 14 in the International League and 16 in the Pacific Coast League. All 30 of those AAA teams are guaranteed a player development contract with a big league affiliate.
Player development contracts are signed in two or four-year increments only.
The Mets could, in theory, buy a part of a AAA team in the International League, as the Yankees have done with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or the Braves did with the Richmond franchise to facilitate a move to Gwinnett in the northern Atlanta suburbs. However, that’s just not going to happen any time soon. The existing International League teams are largely stable, and the Mets would need the Yankees consent to move a AAA team into the New York tri-state area. The Mets refused the Yankees request to allow the SWB Yankees to play in Newark for 2012 while their stadium was renovated, forcing the team into a full summer on the road so it seems unlikely the Yankees would be in any mode to do the Mets any favors on the affiliate front.
So again, it’s Buffalo or a two-year trip to the PCL for the Mets. The PCL is looking likelier and likelier.