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Affiliation news: Mets, Astros, 51s, River Bandits

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Las Vegas 51s

With less than a week for teams to exclusively renew their player-development contracts before open season, it looks like the New York Mets will stay with the Las Vegas 51s, and Houston's Reid Ryan will be heading to Quad Cities today to renew with the River Bandits.

Though a formal deal has not been announced, Mets officials say they're likely to renew with the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League). That's a departure from recent years, when the 51s ended up with the last MLB team standing after all other affiliation deals were signed. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“That’s a very strong possibility,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday at Cashman Field. “We have a great relationship with the 51s organization. I’ve known (team president) Don Logan a long time, and he runs an excellent operation.”...

Logan said he hopes the Mets stay in Las Vegas, but declined to speculate.

“The distance makes it tough. If you’re them, you’ve got to take a look,” he said. “My hope is everything’s going to settle back into what it was. I’ve been doing this long enough to know we’ll make the best of whatever we get.”

With a new ballpark potentially on the way, the biggest challenge faced by MLB parents -- Cashman Field -- could be eliminated in a couple of years. Las Vegas does offer other pluses to MLB parents: with round-the-clock flights to almost the entire country, it's fairly easy to move players to and from the 51s.

The potential renewals comes at a time when we're seeing some major shifts at the Triple-A level. Insiders say it's a virtual certainty that the San Francisco Giants will affiliate with the Sacramento River Cats (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), that the Los Angeles Dodgers will shift its affiliation to the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) after a Peter Guber-led group buys the team, and that the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) may part ways with the Milwaukee Brewers. These moves would leave the Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), Albuquerque Isotopes (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) seeking new parents.

We could also see some similar shakeups at the Low Class A level, but one deal will be announced today: Houston Astros president Reid Ryan announced yesterday he was heading to Modern Woodmen Park to sign a PDC extension with the Quad Cities River Bandits (Low Class A; Midwest League). GM Jeff Luhnow also confirmed the team was talking extension with the Lancaster Jethawks (High Class A; and Tri-City ValleyCats (short season A; NY-Penn League).

It was already assumed the Astros and River Bandits would extend, so this doesn't affect a potential shakeup in the Midwest League. It will all depend on what the Chicago Cubs do: if the team declines an extension with the Kane County Cougars and shifts to the Fort Wayne TinCaps, look for three MLB teams -- the San Diego Padres (currently affiliated with the TinCaps), Oakland Athletics (currently affiliated with the Beloit Snappers) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (currently affiliated with the Burlington Bees) to make a play for Kane County.

Here's a look at the current affiliate status in Minor League Baseball.

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