Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says his team has no plans to shift Double-A affiliation to a new Ottawa team — but the statement means less than you think, considering he’s contractually obligated to say this.
National Post baseball writer John Lott caught up with Anthopoulos after it was announced a Double-A Eastern League franchise could be moved to Ottawa Stadium under a tentative deal announced yesterday. After praising the virtues of the Jays’ current Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (all of which are true: it’s a very well-run team on both the player-development and fan levels), Anthopoulos then said what he is obligated to say under MLB rules: the Jays have no intention of switching affiliations. “All this stuff is news to me,” he said.
Under baseball rules, teams must honor the terms of an existing affiliation and not seek a new one until the current PDC expires. Even if someone in the Blue Jays organization had given signals that an affiliation deal could be struck — something Ken Gray says happened — neither Anthopoulos nor anyone else from the Blue Jays could make a statement that they were interested in or planning on changing affiliations until the end of the 2012 season, when the current Jays/Fisher Cats deal ends.
So take Anthopoulos’s statements with a grain of salt: he gave the only appropriate answer to the question. And the Blue Jays do not need an affiliation with an Ottawa team to take advantage of the situation: the Boston Red Sox maintain an affiiate with the Portland Sea Dogs even though there are closer Double-A affiliates — like the aforementioned Fisher Cats. Expanding baseball’s presence in the region is a win-win both for Ottawa baseball fans and the Toronto Blue Jays.
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