The New York Mets’ days in Las Vegas appear to be numbered.
The Mets have struck a deal to buy the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League to make their top affiliate, according to the Syracuse (New York) Post-Standard.
The Mets have a player development contract that provides players to the 51s through the end of the 2018 season. After that, the 51s would have to seek a new MLB affiliate.
Las Vegas 51s president Don Logan said he had heard rumors about the move but nobody with the Mets had notified him of their planned departure.
“It would have been nice to know but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything,” Logan said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the Mets. I’ve enjoyed the great players they’ve run through here. The staff has been good. … We have had and I’m sure we will have again for the coming season a real good working relationship with them.”
The Mets had expressed interest in moving their top affiliate closer to home but after the Rochester Red Wings and Minnesota Twins re-upped their contract last summer, they ultimately re-signed in Las Vegas, where they have been since 2013.
“I certainly understand the Mets’ desire to have a more geographically compatible Triple-A franchise,” Logan said. “Shoot you think about all those guys that have come through here which has been great for our fans getting to see some of the top guys at their position in Major League Baseball.
“It’s just the nature of the business. When you have an affiliate that’s three time zones away, it’s always going to be a tough relationship.”
The agreement to purchase the Chiefs is expected to be announced Tuesday at NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse, the Post-Standard reported.
Meanwhile, the 51s will be searching for a new major league partner after the 2018 season. Logan often has touted Las Vegas as an attractive affiliate because of the ease of travel, among other things, though Cashman Field remains one of the worst facilities in Triple-A and the 51s have been vocal about their desire to move to Summerlin.
However, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority this week will consider an agreement that would pave the way for the 51s owners to build a stadium in Summerlin.
“The Mets are going to be our affiliate for the 2018 season,” Logan said. “We look forward to that and I’m sure they look forward to that and then we’ll deal with what happens during the prescribed time frame.”
The 51s have previously been affiliated with the San Diego Padres (1983-2000), Los Angeles Dodgers (2001-08) and Toronto Blue Jays (2009-12).
The Washington Nationals currently play in Syracuse, though that doesn’t mean they’ll affiliate with the 51s. With many player development contracts expiring after next season, multiple teams could shift affiliates. Besides the Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers could be a team looking for a new Triple-A affiliate.