Two Down, Three To Go (Maybe)

The Harrisburg Senators and Washington Nationals have announced a four-year extension of their player development contract through the 2018 season. This is the second affiliate to extend during this offseason, both months in advance of the September deadline to renew before open negotiations (typically the last two weeks of September).

The Senators have been a Nationals affiliate the longest of the five teams located north of Florida, having been an Expos affiliate since 1991, and should effectively quash any idle talk of the Nationals switching to the Richmond Squirrels, which is usually an indication that such folks have never been to both places for a game.

The PDCs of the Nationals’ “A” teams — Auburn (SS), Hagerstown (Low-A), and Potomac (High-A) — expire after the 2014 season. Two years ago, the Nationals extended three* affiliates during spring training, and renewed with Hagerstown in October 2012.
* or four; there’s conflicting information regarding whether the 2010 extension for Potomac was for two or four years

As passed along yesterday, there is turmoil in Hagerstown (plans to relocate to Fredericksburg) and Auburn (five GMs since 2010) which makes their PDC renewals less-than-certain. Potomac, which has been planning to build a new ballpark for more than since last decade, seems a little safer given its proximity to DC and strong attendance despite playing in one of the worst facilities in affiliated baseball.

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.

16 thoughts on “Two Down, Three To Go (Maybe)”

  1. Luke- any guesses on what type
    Of non roster invitees for Viera?
    Besides the obvious names like overbay
    Or Jeff baker ?
    Joe Martinez or Michael Burgess??
    McHenry late of buccos makes sense

    1. Aside from none of the beat writers relaying the reality that these guys need a car crash and an outbreak of meningitis to make the 25-man roster, no, no guesses.

  2. Man, this is great news. Harrisburg is such a great facility & place to watch a game. That’s 4 years now before we have to read some fool entry about moving our AA team to Richmond. Luke, you nailed it!

    Luke, what kind of facility is Auburn’s?

    I just wish the Nats would buy the Potomac franchise and get that owner out of there.

    1. Heh. As one fool who has opined that the Nats would be well served to bring their minor league teams in to leverage their natural advantage throughout the Commonwealth of VA, I resemble that remark! But for the record, my pipe dream is not to move Harrisburg, which I think is just fine where it is, unless the Nats were to somehow leverage the O’s out of Norfolk – which ain’t happening (it’s too convenient for Baltimore the same way that it would be convenient for the Nationals, and Angeolos isn’t going to do the Nats any favors). No, my pipe dream would be that the Nationals build a decent facility in Richmond and move their AAA team there. Richmond has supported AAA teams in the past. It would be a tough break for Syracuse, but attendance in Syracuse is not good, and the climate is abysmal. Several Nats minor leaguers have complained about the “joy” of playing before dozens of people in near-freezing temperatures well into May.

      And yes, I know that it’s not going to happen. I think that it would be in the enlightened self-interest of the organization in building its fan base, but I also recognize that baseball owners don’t like to pay for the playpens.

  3. YES!!!!!!!!!! Mark hit that nail right on the head. Now let’s hope someone does the same to that idiot owner. Fredericksburg will probably be safe once they get a shovel in the ground and prove it is really happening. I can’t imagine, though, that the Nationals’ organization is going to keep listening to Silber’s endless lies about a new stadium while their players are stuck in a dump. Despite what is being published in pointless press releases, there is zero progress on a new stadium, and there never will be while they have a glory mongering buffoon for an owner.

    1. If I’m not mistaken, the Red Sox own 2 or three of their franchises. I remember reading when they bought (I think) the Carolina League team.

      1. I think it’s just Salem, which they bought in the 2008 offseason. I’ve always found it a bit surprising that more MLB organizations haven’t done this, but as I recall reading somewhere, most organizations don’t want the headache of dealing with the day-to-day operations. Given how ham-handed and tone-deaf the parent club has been on the fan experience in DC, it’s hard for me to believe that they’d necessarily be an improvement. In any case, I can tell you from having been a STH elsewhere, not to mention my graduate studies, these complaints are common.

  4. Being a huge Nats fan that lives in Richmond (RVA) I am again sad to hear I will have to wait four more years for a Nats affiliate in my hometown. I do understand why they are staying in Hburg. I know the Diamond is a dump but it’s better then Pfitzner. Also I was hoping with the talk of the new baseball stadium being built in downtown Rva that might sway the decision. Also how can anyone claim that Syracuse is a baseball town? Their attendance record is horrific & I don’t think their new ownership will right the ship. I do believe one day that Harrisburg or RVA will be a AAA town. I will ask this if the PNats never get a new stadium do you see the Nats switching affiliates in the Carolina League with someplace like Lynchburg or maybe even Wilmington, DE?

    1. I think Richmond would be the perfect place for the Nats AAA team. Totally agree on that. The bad news is it doesn’t look like a new stadium is happening there, sad to say. Hope springs eternal.

    2. There’s a reason why I’ve referred to the Diamond as Pfitzner South… but both ballparks were built to the standards of that era and were like Yugos when they were new. However, it should also be noted — as I did above — that it is possible to be successful with a substandard facility. It’s also possible to have a great facility and a substandard experience, as countless teams have proven.

      As for the question, it’s quite possible they could switch affiliation to another team in the Carolina League… or the California League… or the Florida State League. Same is true for Fredericksburg — it’s foolish to assume that the new team will still have a Washington affiliation, just as it’s foolish to assume that they’ll pull this off in time for a 2015 opening.

      1. Wow, Im shocked you would think they would consider the California League. I never thought of the FSL but it makes sense especially if they stay in Vierra or move to another Spring Training home.

        Again I do agree that both The Diamond and the Pfitz were built in the 80’s and going to a game there is like watching the movie Bull Durham or remembering watching baseball during my child hood when the Salem team in the Roanoke, VA area was the Salem Buccaneers. I’m not 30 year but I barely remember Yugos but have heard the expression!!!

        As a fan I would love to see Richmond, FBurg, and Woodbridge be Nats affilates. I travel the state for my job so it would be nice to catch games up along 95! This is how I am able to make it to one or two of the PNats games during the season.

        Great dialogue here and thanks for the replies!

        1. You’re assuming, of course, that the choice would be theirs (California Lg.) — it’s always possible for an organization (e.g. Cincinnati) that wants out of that league to make a play for one of the available spots in the Carolina this coming offseason. Let’s say they go after Potomac, convince them to switch affiliations if not buy them out and none of the other teams budges. Washington would be in a “forced marriage” with the vacated team in California, or as it’s written in the NAPBL agreement: “Clubs that have not agreed to enter into a PDC arrangement or renew an existing PDC arrangement will be assigned PDC affiliations by the Office of the Commissioner and the President of the Minor League Association.” (H/T to MetsMinorLeagueBlog).

          Is it likely? No. Is it possible? Yes.

  5. Bad economy even with Lerner family
    In ownership
    Bummer that Local MD guy McHenry went
    To rox. He would have been neat on minor
    League deal.
    Reynolds to Milwaukee. Ok Melvin. Enjoy those
    Next signing Lyle Overbay or Jeff Baker.
    Will Rizzo ever sew up that cub Scott Hairston
    Deal ??

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