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5 questions about the Oakland A’s, Las Vegas 51s’ partnership

Updated September 19, 2018 - 2:25 pm

The 51s put an end to nearly a year of speculation about their next major league partnership, entering into a player development contract Monday with the Oakland Athletics, just a day after major and minor league teams were able to begin negotiating.

The move makes sense for both teams, as the Athletics were the only West Coast team seeking to reaffiliate and the 51s will have a new ballpark.

But the move — and the affiliation process in general — has sparked confusion among fans, so here is an attempt to answer some of those questions:

Is this a precursor to the Athletics moving to Las Vegas?

No, it isn’t.

One has nothing to do with another.

The Athletics, unlike the Raiders, have no plans to move to Las Vegas. They are, as they say, #RootedinOakland, firmly committed to building a new stadium there to replace the dated Oakland Coliseum.

Instead, the A’s are moving their Triple-A operations, which were in Nashville, Tennessee, to Las Vegas.

This will make it easy for them to shuttle players back and forth and to have rehabbing players play for their Triple-A affiliate instead of having them rehab with the nearby Class-A Advanced Stockton Ports because they didn’t want to send them all the way to Nashville.

Why the change?

This came about as a result of the Mets buying the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs last year.

The Mets and 51s had had a strong partnership, but it was no secret that the Mets wanted their Triple-A team to be closer to them. Syracuse is just about the perfect option for them as it is close to both their major league club and Double-A team, which is in Binghamton, New York.

Why is the deal for two years?

Player development contracts can be signed for either two or four years, and they are signed after even season ends.

A two-year deal means that the two teams could part ways after the 2020 season, when many other PDCs have expired, or they could extend the deal even longer if things are going well.

Why not a different team?

Many fans in Las Vegas seem disappointed that their favorite team isn’t the one bringing their prospects to town.

The Dodgers, especially, seem to be the team that fans mention most.

But only five teams were possibilities, and the Dodgers weren’t one of them because they are settled in Oklahoma City.

The Athletics, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals and Astros were looking for new Triple-A homes, with the Astros a lock to go to Round Rock, Texas.

So, really only four teams were possibilities with Oakland being the only one that plays on the West Coast.

How is the Athletics farm system?

The Sounds finished 72-68 as the A’s top affiliate, slightly better than the 51s, who were 71-69 as a Mets affiliate last year.

But the Athletics have a stronger farm system than the Mets, ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of the season by MLBPipeline.

Some of the team’s top prospects will find their way to Las Vegas this season or next. Starter Jesus Luzardo is the team’s top prospect. The 20-year-old left-hander reached Triple-A by the end of last season, starting four games for the Sounds.

More 51s: Follow all of our Las Vegas 51s coverage online at reviewjournal.com/51s and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Betsy Helfand at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BetsyHelfand on Twitter.

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