The Nats have locked down all four affiliates below AAA through the 2020 season.
The extension will reduce the tension that both teams face in securing a sale of the team (Hagerstown) and the relocation of the team (Potomac). Both franchises have a letter of intent for their respective wishes, which are roughly the equivalent of promise ring as it relates to a marriage. The Suns have been reportedly on the market for nearly two years while the P-Nats have been seeking a new stadium for more than two decades.
The fifth, Syracuse, will end its ten-season run with the Nationals by virtue of the New York Mets’ purchase of the franchise last October. The Nationals will return to the Pacific Coast League for the first time since 2007, as the last available I.L. team (Rochester) renewed with Minnesota last month and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders—majority-owned by the New York Yankees—renewed yesterday with… wait for it… the New York Yankees.
Where the Nationals will play at AAA in 2019 is not clear. While Occam’s Razor suggests they will replace the Mets as the affiliate with the Las Vegas 51s, as of this writing there are six PCL franchises that have not renewed beyond 2018. Nashville is the only unsigned-beyond-2018 affiliate east of the Mississippi, and some have suggested here and elsewhere that Oakland may prefer to switch to Las Vegas from Nashville to reduce the amount of time required for a player to travel to the West Coast.