It’s the time of year when MLB teams are reevaluating their MiLB affiliates, and the Toronto Blue Jays will probably explore a deal with the Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League) — which could ultimately profit both teams.
The Bisons are currently affiliated with the New York Mets, an arrangement wholeheartedly embraced by the Bisons front office — to the point where the Mets’ colors were adopted in the Bisons color scheme. But it’s iffy as to whether the relationship has impacted the Bisons’ bottom line, with attendance dropping from 8,219 in 2010 to 6,659 so far this season.
Enter the Toronto Blue Jays, which can offer both proximity and the potential of fans crossing the border to see the team’s prospects. The Blue Jays are currently affiliated with the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), which makes for some proximity challenges in shuffling players around. It’s not the best situation for either team: the Blue Jays don’t make for much of a marketing advantage for the 51s, and the distance makes things harder for the Blue Jays.
John Lott of the National Post lays out the rationale for the Bisons switching affiliation from the Mets to the Blue Jays. Of course, technically, neither team can discuss an affiliation change or even hint at one while the current affiliation deal is in place. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has put a newed emphasis on rebuilding the team’s farm system, and some bright starts are making their way up the affiliate level. The Blue Jays probably would be happy to throw in an exhibition game or two to sweeten any deal with the Bisons. At the end of the day, MiLB owners make affiliate decisions based on either how well a parent treats them or how an affiliation can raise their bottom line. For Buffalo, it looks like both factors could be at play here.
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