In the upcoming biennial Triple-A shuffle, several big league ballclubs — including the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics — are expected to switch their affiliates.
But none of the aforementioned teams are expected to land in Las Vegas, which appears likely to extend its partnership with the New York Mets by agreeing to a new two-year Player Development Contract.
“That’s a very strong possibility,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday at Cashman Field. “We have a great relationship with the 51s organization. I’ve known (team president) Don Logan a long time, and he runs an excellent operation.”
Before partnering with Las Vegas the past two seasons, New York was affiliated with the Buffalo Bisons for four years (2009-12). While the Mets — who previously were affiliated with the Tidewater/Norfolk Tides (1969-2006) and New Orleans Zephyrs (2007-08) — would prefer that their top farm club be located closer to home, there don’t appear to be any viable options.
The Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings would be a good fit, but they are expected to renew their PDC with the Minnesota Twins, according to multiple sources.
“I’ve got a real good feeling we’re gonna be back,” 51s manager Wally Backman said. “I don’t know that for sure, but I think we’ll be back.
“I’m sure the Mets would like to have us on the East Coast, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. And if we can’t be there, in my opinion this is the best place to be. I would like to see them come back here.”
Logan said he hopes the Mets stay in Las Vegas, but declined to speculate.
“The distance makes it tough. If you’re them, you’ve got to take a look,” he said. “My hope is everything’s going to settle back into what it was. I’ve been doing this long enough to know we’ll make the best of whatever we get.”
Las Vegas was affiliated with the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 2000 and with the Dodgers from 2001 to 2008, when Los Angeles bolted for Albuquerque, N.M., because of a lack of player amenities at outdated Cashman Field.
The 51s and Blue Jays were brought together in a virtual shotgun marriage in 2009 and stayed together until 2012, when Toronto traded places in Buffalo with New York — which was the last team standing and had no choice but to partner with Las Vegas.
“Until we build a new stadium, we don’t deserve or have the ability to call our shot,” Logan said. “If people ever criticize who we have or why we have them, all 29 other communities in Triple-A baseball have stepped up and built stadiums, and we haven’t done (anything).”
Despite playing at what will be the third-oldest Triple-A ballpark next season, the 51s have thrived as the Mets’ affiliate.
Through Sunday night’s 6-5 home win over Round Rock, they’ve compiled a 158-123 (.562) record while winning two straight Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division titles and promoting a plethora of players to New York.
“From a player development standpoint, our system is much better now than it was four or five years ago, and the record here in Las Vegas both last year and this year reflects that,” Alderson said. “We’ve had a number of players come up and make a contribution from Las Vegas, and it’s a credit to the players and the staff here that the team continues to play well.”
Alderson also praised the improved condition of the playing surface at Cashman Field this season and said the distance between here and New York hasn’t been an insurmountable problem.
“There’s lots of flights from here to New York, so we haven’t had a great deal of trouble getting our players in when we’ve needed them, and that’s been a positive,” he said. “All things being equal, being 100 miles away is better than being 3,000 miles away, but all other things are usually not equal, so they all have to be taken into account.”
According to The Oklahoman, the Dodgers will be shifting their affiliation from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City next season. A group affiliated with the Dodgers is on the brink of purchasing the RedHawks from Mandalay Baseball Properties, former owner of the 51s, the paper reported Friday.
According to The Modesto Bee, the A’s plan to move from Sacramento to Nashville’s new park next season, and the Giants will move their affiliate from Fresno to Sacramento. The Milwaukee Brewers would end up in Fresno, the paper reported — leaving the Houston Astros, now in Oklahoma City, to go to Albuquerque or elsewhere.
Major and minor league teams have until the end of September to reach an agreement on a PDC.
“We could do it early,” Alderson said. “We’ve had conversations (with the 51s), and I expect we’ll continue to have conversations.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.