If the Mets want a Triple-A affiliate closer than Las Vegas for the 2015 season, they would be well-advised to make some friends in Rochester in a hurry.
Yesterday, William Ladson reported that the Washington Nationals and the Syracuse Chiefs would extend their working agreement through the 2018 season.
A little history first. Following four years with the Buffalo Bisons from 2009 through 2012, in which the Bisons saw attendance decline, the Bisons sought an affiliation with the closer Toronto Blue Jays. That pushed the Mets west to Las Vegas and the 51s where they signed a two-year player development contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Remember, Player Development Contracts are almost always mutual, both the Major League and the Minor League team must want to be partners with each other. The exception is the 30th team. If the Mets and Las Vegas are the last big league team and the last minor league team without a dance partner at a given level AAA through a-ball, they are forced onto the floor together.
There are five teams in the East Coast(ish) International League with PDCs that expire at the end of 2014: Columbus Clippers (CLE), Durham Bulls (TB), Norfolk Tides (BAL), Pawtucket Red Sox (BOS), Rochester Red Wings (MIN).
1. Columbus, in a new ballpark, is very happy to be affiliated with Cleveland, which is just over two hours away.
2. Norfolk, which booted the Mets in 2006, when team representatives said things like “They took us for granted,” seems unlikely to be interested in returning to life as a Mets affiliate especially with a PDC with the geographically proximate Orioles in place.
3. Pawtucket isn’t leaving the Red Sox for anything.
4. Durham and Tampa have had a productive relationship for 15 years. I’m not sure what would make Durham jump from Tampa to the Mets.
So, if the Mets want to land an affiliation back in the International League for the 2015 season, Rochester is the move. However, two years ago, faced with a Mets franchise looking for a new International League affiliate, Rochester resigned with Minnesota. The Wings were 72-72 in 2012 and 77-67 in 2013.
Will this round be any different?
The other option for the Mets is a more eastern home in the Pacific Coast League. In particular, Nashville is planning on spending $150 in public and private money million on a new ballpark area, with roughly $50 million coming from the Nashville Sounds, a Brewers affiliate at the moment, for the ballpark and associated retail. In August, this was an $80 million project, but it keeps growing.
If the Mets are interested in a new ballpark in the PCL, the Las Vegas ownership group and developer Howard Hughes Corp is interested in a $65 million ballpark in Summerlin and expressed optimism in May that they could make the ballpark happen. There is now some opposition from unions regarding the $88 million project, which means at least someone is paying attention and thinks the plan has a chance to succeed.
So, the choices for the Mets: stay west and target a new ballpark or aim for the Red Wings?
The chart after the jump lists each International League franchise and their PDC status, as best as I could determine.
The 2014 International League PDC Scene
|Buffalo Bisons||Toronto Blue Jays||2016||MLB.com|
|Charlotte Knights||Chicago White Sox||2020||MiLB.com|
|Columbus Clippers||Cleveland Indians||2014||MLB.com|
|Durham Bulls||Tampa Bay Rays||2014||BA|
|Gwinnett Braves||Atlanta Braves||Never|
|Indianapolis Indians||Pittsburgh Pirates||2016||Indy Indians|
|Lehigh Valley IronPigs||Philladelphia Philliies||2016||MiLB.com|
|Louisville Bats||Cincinatti Reds||2016||Bats|
|Norfolk Tides||Baltimore Orioles||2014||Tides|
|Pawtucket Red Sox||Boston Red Sox||2014||BA|
|Rochester Red Wings||Minnesota Twins||2014||Wings|
|Scranton Wilkes-Barre||NYY||Never||Citizen’s Voice|
|Syracuse Chiefs||Washington Nationals||2018||William Ladson|
|Toledo Mud Hens||Detroit Tigers||2016||BA|