We are closer to a resolution of the MLB extreme makeover of Minor League Baseball, as major-league teams are being appraised about their affiliates in 2021 and beyond–though not every MLB team is happy about the changes.
Take, for example, the San Francisco Giants, likely to lose the Augusta GreenJackets (Low A; Sally League) and the Richmond Flying Squirrels (Class AA; Eastern League) as affiliates and gaining an affiliate in the High-A Northwest League. In terms of losing Augusta, this is just a numbers/conflict game: with the California League transitioning from High A to Low A and the Giants already owning the San Jose Giants, losing the GreenJackets is simply a matter of the numbers, and pretty much a done deal. (Too bad: the player facilities at SRP Park were built to the Giants’ specifications.) Losing the Flying Squirrels sounds like it’s more a matter of geography than anything else, but that’s less certain, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2021 the Giants will sport a very West Coast-centric farm system, with San Jose at Low A, an as-yet-announced Northwest League team at High A, and Sacramento at Class AAA.
Nothing in this move means Augusta and Richmond are losing their affiliation status like the Trenton Thunder did when the New York Yankees switched its Class AA affiliation to the Somerset Patriots: SRP Park features plenty of high-end player-development facilities that will be appealing to many MLB teams.
Similarly, we’ve heard from a few MLB farm directors who are dissatisfied with their new affiliate lineup. One issue in particular: with the move of the Northwest League from Short Season A to High A, West Coast MLB teams are being herded into affiliations there. With the Midwest League also shifting to High A, some West Coast MLB teams have fought moves away from their longtime Midwest League affiliates to new Northwest League affiliates, no matter how inconvenient the travel or incongruous the distance from other affiliates.
Remember: the old days of MiLB and MLB teams negotiating their affiliation relationships are gone. Instead, MLB will assign affiliates; MiLB teams will have no say in assignments.
RELATED STORIES: SI Yankees “shocked” by Yankees affiliate decision; Thunder owner Plumeri: We were betrayed by Yankees; Let the Affiliate Dance begin!; Yankees announce affiliate changes in first glimpse of MiLB overhaul; Details of MLB takeover of MiLB emerge; MiLB facility guidelines released; owners sanguine; Freund joins MLB in MiLB reorganization push; MLB announces plans for Appalachian reincarnation as wood-bat league; O’Conner to retire as MiLB President and CEO; RIP Minor League Baseball: 1901-2020; MLB announces plans for Appalachian reincarnation as wood-bat league; American Association, Frontier League now MLB Partner Leagues; Indy Atlantic League designated MLB Partner League; O’Conner to retire as MiLB President and CEO; MiLB: We’re in the endgame now