“It is an incredibly exciting time to partner with the Las Vegas 51s,” said Athletics Executive VP of Baseball Operations Billy Beane via press release. “Their ownership group is committed to providing a first-class environment for our players, which includes the grand opening of the Las Vegas Ballpark for the inaugural season of our affiliation. We’re looking forward to working closely with Don Logan and his staff as we both work towards putting a championship club on the field.”
“We are excited to have the Oakland A’s as our new Major League affiliate,” 51s President/COO Don Logan said in a press statement. “I have known Billy Beane for a long time and consider him a friend. The relationship with the A’s goes back to the 1990’s when they played regular season games in Las Vegas (1996). The A’s have enjoyed great success at the Triple-A level with their minor league system which has been second to none. The new PDC will provide a tremendous environment for the players with the state-of-the-art amenities that will enhance player development with the indoor hitting cages, mounds and workout areas in the Las Vegas Ballpark. The proximity with the Bay Area to Las Vegas will also provide the opportunity to move players much easier regarding the roster transactions from the Triple-A to the Major League level. McCarran International Airport has non-stop flights to the numerous PCL markets, as well as the big cities, that enables our team to have the best travel in the 16-team league. This will be a great situation for our fans to watch top prospects in the A’s system as well as players on Major League rehabilitation assignments showcase their talents in the Las Vegas Ballpark.”
In recent years the 51s has been the last team standing when it came to MLB affiliates, but with the opening of Las Vegas Ballpark in 2019, the team is now in demand. Add in the closer proximity to Oakland and one of the busiest airports in the country (easy for shuffling players around the continent), and the Vegas shift makes sense for Oakland. The A’s are leaving an affiliation with the Nashville Sounds (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) which ran for four seasons (2015–18).
The move leaves five open affiliations at Triple-A. The New York Mets purchased the Syracuse Chiefs (Class AAA; International League) and are expected to shift affiliation there. With the Colorado Springs Sky Sox moving to San Antonio for 2019, it’s expected the Texas Rangers will shift affiliation from Round Rock to San Antonio. Nashville and the Fresno Grizzlies will be seeking new MLB partners from Milwaukee (a former parent of the Nashville Sounds) and Washington.
You can read more about the current state of affiliations on our Affiliate Dance page. We expect a number of player development contracts to be renewed in the coming week, but there are always intriguing openings at every level of baseball. As you can see on the Affiliate Dance page, we’re now at the point where MLB and MiLB teams can search for new affiliation options, so there’s always a shuffle of sorts at the end of the season.