Much has been made regarding the recent affiliation changes in the triple-A level and there seems to be a level of confusion regarding the procedure for choosing a Major League affiliate.
Here is how the process works:
Teams have the option of signing a two-year or four-year working agreement. The Chiefs’ working agreement with Toronto was set to expire at the end of the 2006 season. The club’s Board of Directors had the option to extend the working agreement at any time prior to its expiration or wait until August 26 and declare the club a “free agent”. At that time, the Blue Jays would also be free to re-align with any available triple-A franchise.
Major League and Minor League teams are NOT allowed to discuss potential working agreements with any club other than than current affiliate until September 16. From September 16 to September 30, “free agent” Major and Minor League teams seek new partnerships or renew expired agreements. The later option is highly unusual as bridges are typically burned once the process reaches this point. This process is strictly governed by the MLB Comissioner’s Office and the NAPBL President’s Office. Strict fines are levied against teams who are caught tampering with club’s affiliates.
In the case of Syracuse, a decision was made based on information received through early June, the longest the team has ever waited to re-sign. The Board also chose to sign a two-year agreement for the second straight time, rather than a four-year deal as it had done in the past. Major League affiliates that could have intersted the Chiefs’ Board were not expected to be available at the end of the season. The Yankees were expected to return to Columbus, OH for a 29th season and the Mets were expected to return to Norfolk, VA for a 39th season, the longest association in triple-A baseball. In addition, long-time Tides General Manager Dave Rosenfield indicated that his club’s intention was to re-sign with the Mets.
To set the record straight, the New York Yankees were NEVER available to sign with a triple-A franchise other than Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Columbus. What fans haven’t heard is that Mandalay Sports and Entertainment, a group that owns and operates several Minor League franchises including the Staten Island Yankees, has been hired by Lackawanna County to operate the Red Barons for the next two years. Also, Chad Jennings of the Scranton Times-Tribune reported on Wednesday that the Stadium Authority approved a management agreement that “will put Mandalay in charge of the Red Barons business operations and add two more years to the Yankees affiliation.” This further indicates that the driving force behind the Yankees’ move to Scranton was the Mandalay Group, which had an existing relationship with the Yankees.
Hopefully, this provides the complete story about affiliation changes to Central New York baseball fans. Please send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.