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Blue Jays expected to re-up with New Hampshire

New Hampshire Fisher CatsThe Toronto Blue Jays are expected to extend their PDC with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Class AA; Eastern League), as hopes for an Ottawa Eastern League team fade fast.

Kevin Gray reports on the love between the Jays and the Fisher Cats. No surprise here: the Fisher Cats front office is one of the best in Minor League Baseball, and the relationship between the two has been strong. Their player-development deal ends at the end of the season, but both sides are expecting a renewal at some point.

There had been rumors of the Blue Jays exploring a shift to an affiliation with a new Ottawa team. And, indeed, a big part of a sales pitch to Ottawa officials and residents has been that potential affiliation. But as of now dangling that affiliation is somewhat of a cruel hoax to Ottawa baseball fans, as there’s currently little chance an Eastern League team will be moving to the Canadian capital any time soon.

Here’s the situation, which we’ve cobbled together after discussions with several MiLB team owners. First: there was never a local group seeking to bring an Eastern League team to Ottawa: the entire move was engineered by Beacon Sports Capital Partners, which also works as a MiLB team broker. Beacon had been identified by Ottawa press outlets as representing the interests of a potential buyer, but that’s not entirely true: Beacon Sports has been working to drum up interest in the Ottawa market and was working as the broker on a potential deal if a buyer emerged.

Indeed, the team that was envisioned as moving to Ottawa was the Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League). The B-Mets ownership — all with local ties — had no interest in actually moving the team themselves, but were interesting in selling it and moving down to short-season A with the purchase of a NY-Penn League team. Makes economic sense: the team could keep the best dates of the year and make money on the appreciation of the Eastern League franchise.

But there never was a serious buyer for the team. Things like ticket drives and corporate sponsors were designed to pull a potential buyer from the woodwork, but so far no one has been willing to step up for serious talks. 

Thus, B-Mets ownership could truthfully (if not a little disingenuously) say they’ve had no sales discussions and no talks with any potential buyers, either in the United States and Canada, though a potential team sale has been brokered by Beacon Sports reps.  But the move did put a little pressure on the Blue Jays front office, who were never involved in any talks past an original meet-and-greet where Ottawa officials proclaimed their love for Toronto. 

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