Affiliation Merry Go Round [Update: Nats switch from Vermont to Auburn]

[Update: Nats sign two-year deal with Auburn] A look at the relative calm of the biennial affiliate dance

Thankfully, the Washington Nationals farm system appears to staying mostly the same this offseason, signing two-year extensions for Syracuse and Harrisburg and another four-year extension for Potomac. Hagerstown is widely expected to renew for another two years, particularly after the Nationals reportedly helped broker a deal for a local ownership group to purchase the Suns.

There is, however, one notable exception: The Vermont Lake Monsters.

Earlier this week, the Blue Jays officially pulled the plug on its relationship with the Auburn Doubledays, a move that had been telegraphed when it was announced that manager Dennis Holmberg would be managing Toronto’s re-entry into the Appalachian League in Bluefield, a team that had severed the longest-standing affiliation (53 years) in baseball when the Orioles cut ties in late August.

How does that relate to Vermont? Quite simply, with the Washington Nationals unhappy with the well-known problems with Centennial Field it’s quite possible that a move to Auburn, which is three hours closer to DC and less than 30 miles from Syracuse, could be on tap. It would certainly fit the tendency for consolidation along the I-81 corridor.

Details to come, as this is a story we’re watching…

UPDATE: This story was in the can waiting to be published before this tweet came across the Twitterverse.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

10 thoughts on “Affiliation Merry Go Round [Update: Nats switch from Vermont to Auburn]”

  1. I feel bad for the fanbase in Burlington (Freda, are you listening?), but these things happen, I guess.
    Thanks to all the supportive families who housed and helped the youngsters coming into the Expos / Nationals system over the last 17 years. In today’s world, low-level minor-league baseball is hard-pressed to survive without the support of the surrounding community, and the good people of Burlington have done more than their share. Again, thank you.

    1. I suspect Toronto will become the new parent club. The indys have made it plain that they’re ready to swoop in (particularly the Can-Am League, which has been coveting a stop closer to Quebec for more than 10 years) and I have not heard of another open facility in the Northeast.

  2. All I can say is WOW! I never made it to Vermont so I can’t how bad/atrocious the conditions were out there but this is much easier for me to get to.

    I’m happy as long as they kept Harrisburg (beautiful) and Potomac (close).

    Auburn, N.Y. claim to fame before the Nats was as a prison built in 1816 that is still open.

  3. Not much worse than Hagerstown, but I can believe that the indoor facilities are cramped because I had to duck nearly external doorway. I’ve seen wonderful renovations done on similar facilities in Nashua, NH and Lynn, MA but I suspect it might cost closer to $10M than $4-5M to get the same results.

    1. Sue, that link you had for Burlington was pitch perfect because of the fact that the people there themselves admitted the place was bad.

      Facility wise, the Nats just got 73 years younger with one move!

      I’m gonna miss Freda’s occasional input.

  4. Sounds like a good move to me. Kind of indifferent on the Vermont and Syracuse affiliations unless they move to within striking distance of DC. Sounded like Vermont’s facilities weren’t that nice, and I’m sure there are some guys in instructional leagues hoping that there’s an upgrade in that department.

  5. How come “thankfully” staying mostly the same? I’m interested in your perspective. … From my pure fan’s perspective, I like Harrisburg. The renovated stadium is great and fairly close. The Pfitz is the … will you know the rest — but it’s close. The PNats would make a lot more money if they had a state-of-the-art minor league stadium. But as long as they stay close I guess I shouldn’t complain. Hagerstown is fine — and now maybe some upgrades. Syracuse is not fine. I’m hoping Richmond goes back to AAA with a new stadium downtown.

    1. That’s an easy one… since most of us can’t jet to the D.R. and Viera in August is about as appealing as the Northeast Kingdom in February, we still have three-fifths of the affiliates within a 2 1/2 hour drive. I’m thrilled about the Auburn move because it makes possible a long-weekend or week-long trip in which one can see it, Harrisburg, and Syracuse, with perhaps even a detour to Cooperstown.

      Obviously, I’d be happier with newer facilities in Potomac and Hagerstown, but I think the best we can hope for is for renovations. My fear is that when the economy improves, a college that’s building a stadium for its team will decide it would like to have another tenant for 70 dates and offer to share its facility. That just happened in Oregon (Eugene) and has happened in places like State College, Pa. and Greeneville, TN.

      The obsession with Richmond is a mystery to me. Even with a state-of-the-art facility, it does not change the traffic on 95 that makes it a b!tch to get to. But the ship has sailed on its days as a AAA city. Maybe someone can find an example, but I can’t think of an affiliated minor-league market that has gone back up a level after dropping down in the last 20 years. In the post-Camden era, it’s usually affiliated->indy->collegiate woodbat (e.g. Oneonta, NY).

  6. All this talk of Richmond seems to have an air of inevitability to it, like Richmond is soon going to build a new stadium etc., etc. Before my accident, I was down in Richmond every month or two on business, and unless there’s been radical change since I was last there, there won’t be a new stadium for a long while. The political will doesn’t exist. The existing stadium is, to be kind, a dump.
    The drive to Harrisburg is 1/4th the stress than to Richmond, although the time is about the same. What a beautiful place!
    Sue, total agreement on the Auburn/ Cooperstown proximity, exciting stuff. 3 hours closer and 73 years newer.

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