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Nats keep AAA club in Syracuse

Aug 22, 2010, 5:05 PM EDT

PHILADELPHIA — The Nationals have extended their player development contract with Class AAA Syracuse for another two seasons, the club announced today.

The agreement keeps the Nats’ Class AAA affiliate in Syracuse through 2012; the two clubs first became affiliated in 2008.

“This decision to extend our Syracuse affiliation was easy for us,” team president Stan Kasten said in a press release. “We have greatly enjoyed our affiliation with the Chiefs and their fans, both of whom will discover in the coming years there is another wave of exciting, young talent in our player development pipeline.”

Other minor-league affiliates for 2011 and beyond are expected to be announced later this week. The Nationals have expressed some interest in aligning with Class AA Richmond, which has an agreement with the Giants that expires after this season. Harrisburg has served as the Nats/Expos’ Class AA affiliate since 1991.

  1. Anonymous - Aug 22, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Moving the AAA team to Richmond, just two hours down the road, would make sense, if they can get a stadium deal. Having a team in Syracuse does little for marketing or expanding the team's fan base, and is a minor hike for players on rehab assignments.

  2. Chris - Aug 22, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    there is no AAA team to move to in Richmond. You can't just switch classifications on a whim.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 22, 2010 at 6:34 PM

    The Richmond Braves was the AAA team for Atlanta before they moved and created the vacancy; which was filled by the Giants AA team, Flying Squirrels. So it appears that you can put a AAA team in Richmond.

  4. Anonymous - Aug 22, 2010 at 6:39 PM

    Syracuse must have made a heck of a pitch to the Lerners, meaning el cheapo deal because the deal is just plain stupid, at least try to get something in the DMV or PA!? Stupid owners!As for moving from Harrisburg are you crazy, if you want horrible attendence than that is a great move, Harrisburg is a much easier trip for most Nats fans than Richmond.Sometimes I think the ownership makes decisions for $$$ only!

  5. Chris - Aug 22, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    you clearly are lost. The franchise currently in richmond is a AA team. The franchise in Syracuse is a AAA team. Therefore, you can't just switch cities because the two classifications don't match. That's why Harrisburg moving to Richmond is logistically possible and Syracuse is not.capiche?

  6. T-Shirt Tuesday - Aug 22, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    I wasn't talking about switching the cities. I was just commenting that Richmond could host a AAA team; not for us now since, as stated by Mark, they extended their contract with Syracuse.Just leave the Senators in Harrisburg and move the Chiefs to Richmond. Im just saying it's possible.

  7. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 22, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    T-Shirt Tuesday: For that to happen, the Chiefs owners would have to decide to relocate the franchise. The Nats have no say or control in that. They don't own the Chiefs. They only have a minor-league affiliation.The current Richmond AA club used to play in Norwich, Conn. The owners of that team decided to relocate, and I doubt they're now looking to leave town. Only chance of a Nats-Richmond connection would be for a AA affiliation with the current Flying Squirrels franchise.

  8. T-Shirt Tuesday - Aug 22, 2010 at 7:20 PM

    Mark: Thanks for the clarification and knowledge. I only wanted to make the comment that Richmond is capable of hosting a AAA team if the vacancy were to arise.On another note, if the Nats were to align with the AA Richmond team what would happen to the players they've invested in in Harrisburg?

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 22, 2010 at 7:41 PM

    You're kidding, right?

  10. Eric - Aug 22, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    Rough start for Maya in Potomac today. 4IP, 6ER.

  11. Randy - Aug 22, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Richmond will never get a AAA team to use Diamond Stadium. The stadium sucks on multiple levels.

  12. Richard - Aug 22, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    Interesting. The Nats' press release just says the Nats signed a two-year extension with the Chiefs. It doesn't say it's through 2012, as does Mark. I had thought the Nats had an agreement with the Chiefs through 2011, which would make the extension through 2013; but maybe the press report I had read was wrong. I thought the Nats' ageement with Harrisburg ended this year, so an extension with Harrisburg is anticipated. Stan Kasten and company was in Richmond in July along with the Giants' FO schmoozing and talking to the Richmond Flying Squirrel people, who were saying things like "we love the Giants but an affiliation with the geographically closer Nats makes sense re marketing etc." Obviously, this would be a switch in AA filiations with the Giants probably going to Harrisburg. Interestingly, the Nats haven't signed an extension with the Harrisburg Senators yet, although it's allowed since they're the current affiliation, which is a subject of conversation in the Harrisburg press. Sounds like Harrisburg would like the Nats back. Incidentally, the newly renovated Metro Bank Park on City Island in Harrisburg is beautiful. I understand the Richmond facility has numerous drawbacks and a new stadium is not in the offing. The distance re Harrisburg vs. Richmond is essentially a wash, time-wise, if Washington metro area people are thinking of a visit. Anyway, as I understand it, the Nats can location anywhere there's a ownership group ready to accept them. They don't have to convince the Chiefs or the Senators to relocate. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  13. Mark Zuckerman - Aug 22, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    Richard: The Nats' previous two-year agreement with Syracuse expires after this season. Actually, all MLB teams have 2- or 4-year agreements that expire after even-numbered years. So the Nats' new arrangement with Syracuse covers 2011 and 2012.And yes, if the Nats and the Richmond ownership want to sign an AA affiliation agreement, they are free to do that because Richmond's current deal with the Giants expires at the end of the season.Now, I'm not saying it's a done deal or even that it's likely to happen. But I do know the Nats have an interest in affiliating with Richmond. They do have a strong (and long-standing) relationship with Harrisburg as well.

  14. Chris - Aug 22, 2010 at 9:10 PM

    T-Shirt Tuesday said… On another note, if the Nats were to align with the AA Richmond team what would happen to the players they've invested in in Harrisburg? ……………………………………….Players play for organizations, not cities. Every player with Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Vermont and the GCL is property of the Washington Nationals. Where they play or move to is immaterial.

  15. Mark L - Aug 22, 2010 at 10:55 PM

    Richmond is a total dump, Harrisburg is beautiful. It's not even close, and it's a much easier drive to harrisburg.

  16. Anonymous - Aug 23, 2010 at 12:28 AM

    I think the Nats should stay in Harrisburg. When Scraton-Wilkes loses its AAA status, they should move to a new stadium in Richmond in two years.

  17. thebrowncoat - Aug 23, 2010 at 1:13 AM

    If the Nats are interested in growing their fanbase in Virginia (and they should be), an affiliation with Richmond makes a lot of sense. Right now, they have virtually no presence in an 800,000+ metropolitan area an hour and a half to their south. They have little presence anywhere in VA outside of NoVA for that matter – and Richmond has a pretty nice central location in the state.I don't have much knowledge of Harrisburg, but it would seem that Virginia would be the more fertile ground for growing the Nats base – Pennsylvania already has two teams to choose from on the MLB level (well, maybe 1 1/2 – sorry Pirates fans.)Full disclosure: I live in Richmond, so I'd obviously love to see the Nats' AA affiliate here. This is a Braves town due to the Braves being here for so many years and I'd love to see that start to change.And yes – The Diamond isn't the nicest stadium in the world, although the new owners have done a ton to freshen it up as much as possible. It's a good baseball town though – Richmond leads the Eastern League in attendance this year.

  18. Souldrummer - Aug 23, 2010 at 1:14 AM

    It's really a tough call for the organization. Harrisburg's stadium is truly beautiful. It's on a nice island. They just renovated it. There's a tie to the Nationals with the Strasburg buzz, other decent prospects, and the current playoff chase. Harrisburg just moved into wild card position in the Eastern League and now controls its destiny.But Harrisburg is Philly country (Pirates country?) and you have to drive through Orioles country to get there. I don't think it's that possible for the Nats to breed many Nats fans there. It is possible for Nats to drive there. I've made it in around 2Hr the two times I've headed up to Harrisburg from Northeast. It's certainly less stressful for me than heading through Fredericksburg and that horrible stretch of I-95.The Nats would really benefit from a team in Richmond, though. Virginia already seems to be leaning more Nats than Maryland and DC. 6 times out of 10 they ask somebody on the stadium board where their from it seems like Virginia is to the answer. I'd guess Richmond is Braves country now. But put a winner and Bryce Harper there over the next couple of years and they might start swaying to the Nats. Also, it might make it a lot easier to get a Nats radio affiliate there.Tough call either way, and I hope they make the right decision.

  19. randomdude2228 - Aug 23, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    Chris said…T-Shirt Tuesday said…On another note, if the Nats were to align with the AA Richmond team what would happen to the players they've invested in in Harrisburg? ……………………………………….Players play for organizations, not cities. Every player with Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac, Hagerstown, Vermont and the GCL is property of the Washington Nationals. Where they play or move to is immaterial.——–They're not "property of the Washington Nationals", they're under contract with the organization. This isn't the Antebellum South…

  20. Brian G - Aug 23, 2010 at 3:44 AM

    Richmond does not have a AAA franchise. The Braves owned it, so they could move whenever and wherever they wanted. Most if not all franchises are owned by the city but the R-Braves were the exception. So, no AAA coming to Richmond anytime soon. And, the Flying Squirrels lead the Easter League in attendance.

  21. Richard - Aug 23, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    Brian G said"Most if not all franchises are owned by the city but the R-Braves were the exception …"This raises some interesting questions — even though it doesn't matter re the Nats because their AAA team is staying in Syracuse. First, although it's true that almost all Minor League teams are not "owned" by the Major League club (unlike the Braves' affiliates) but rather affiliated with them but operated by independent owners, I would think that there are many non-city owned Minor League teams. For example, the Syracuse Chiefs are owned by the Simone family. (Does the city of Harrisburg own and operate the Senators I wonder?) Second, what good does it do the Braves to "own" the International League (IL) franchise rights in Richmond after moving to Gwinett? And, why would the IL tolerate the franchise "owner" for Richmond, who move to Gwinnett, preventing a viable IL team in that relatively large Richmond market? In short, Brian G, more please.

  22. Brian G - Aug 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Richard, I'm talking about cities that own a franchise that gives them the right to have a AAA team. That's different from who owns the team itself. The Beaves own their own franchise, so they can take that and move anywhere they want to go. My guess is that the city if Syracuse owns a franchise, and the Simones own the Chiefs. The Simones can only move to another city that has a franchise (Columbus, Scranton, etc). The franchises are basucally impossible to get these days and can take years. I live in Richmond, and we all learned an awful lot during the Braves' final few years here. The Braves wanted a new stadium because the Diamond stinks. They got tired of waiting on Richmond to help build one and left for Gwinnett, where they got a new stadium in a market close to Atlanta. Moving closer to the big league club apparently is the trend these days. Does that help?

  23. Richard - Aug 23, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Thanks Brian. Interesting stuff.

  24. Stew Magnuson - Aug 23, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    If we're talking about crummy stadiums, you will find no worse than Class A Potomac. It's an embarrassment to the organization. Harrisburg used to be almost as bad, but at least it had a charming location on the island. Now that it has been updated, Potomac doesn't have much competition, other than Richmond. Waldorf, York and Lancaster all now have very nice new stadiums hosting independent league teams. I think the Nats should consider one of these three towns if Potomac doesn't come up with some kind of plan to make their stadium better than the typical American Legion baseball park. Potomac simply isn't up to industry standards anymore.

  25. Chris - Aug 23, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    randomdude2228 said… They're not "property of the Washington Nationals", they're under contract with the organization. This isn't the Antebellum South… >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Thanks for the dynamite drop-in.

  26. Souldrummer - Aug 23, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    @StewI remember talking to a guy at a Nats game earlier this season who claimed that the original plan was a stadium deal with Alexandria that fell through when political change happened midway through the process (sound familiar Expos fans?). Wonder if there's any chance to reopen those kind of talks. Waldorf seems real isolated to me to try to hold an A+ team there. I think the move is to work on improving the stadium where it sits now, but I have no idea how ownership could be persuaded to do that.

  27. Anonymous - Aug 23, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    Yeah, the Pfitz iin Prince William County has got to be the worst venue in pro baseball.

  28. Stew Magnuson - Aug 23, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    @Souldrummer Ownership in Potomac could be persuaded by a legitimate threat to move the team to a much nicer facility in Waldorf. I agree that Waldorf is in an odd location. But it is also close to the major league franchise and an easy drive for local Nats fans. (Potomac is also several miles off the Interstate. As far as location, I think they're even.) Looking at their attendance stats for this season,the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs has drawn 191,089 fans over 53 games for an average of 3,605 per game.P-Nats have drawn 186,822 over 61 games for an average of 3,062. So the unaffiliated team is drawing 600 more fans per game that the affiliated team. If the Nats were to move their A team there, I believe they would draw even more fans. Meanwhile, Potomac can increase its attendance by hosting Preparation H night. Anyone forced to sit in the team's hemorroid-inducing bleacher seats should get a free tube of Preparation H.

  29. N. Cognito - Aug 23, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    The Nats can't move their affiliation from Potomac to Waldorf. It's a non-issue.

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