Jays’ triple-A affiliate likely Buffalo-bound

What happens in Vegas may very well be moved across the country, all the way to Buffalo.

The Blue Jays, at the end of their triple-A affiliate agreement with the Las Vegas 51’s, have been noted as the No. 1 suitor for the Buffalo Bisons and a new player development contract.

The current team in residence at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo was the triple-A affiliate for the New York Mets of the International League.

On Monday the Mets announced that they had come to a two-year agreement with Las Vegas.

As far back as August of this year, there were reports that the relationship between the Mets and the Buffalo franchise wasn’t a strong one.

“It’s a shame for us, really,” Bisons manager Wally Backman told the Buffalo News after a game against the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Although the relationship between Las Vegas andToronto has been a good one, after Toronto severed their 30-year tie to the Syracuse Chiefs, Blue Jays minor leaguers have struggled with the deserts most notorious Pacific Coast League operation.

Cashman Field is known for being a pitcher’s nightmare, with high altitude sending routine fly balls way out of the park, and an infield that suffers the effects of unbearably hot temperatures, making ground balls unpredictable.

Similarly, many of Toronto’s eye-popping batting stats for players in Vegas haven’t translated when a call-up is made.

In one instance, Jays’ part-time first baseman David Cooper topped the PCL’s batting average leaders in 2011 (.364), but his subsequent call ups to the Blue Jays last year weren’t nearly as productive. He posted a .211 average through 27 games.

Toronto has been looking for a better option, and with the expiration of its four-year contract with Las Vegas at the end of the minor league season, a viable option could be as close as a drive across the border.

General manager Alex Anthopolous will have the director of minor league operations for the club, Charlie Wilson take the helm of the negotiations for either a two or four-year agreement.

“It all comes down to geography more than anything else,” the Blue Jays GM told reporters in Toronto.

“Las Vegas has been good for us, and we may very well end up being there. At this stage, we want to at least take a look.”

In nothing less than a torrential season for the Blue Jays, having the triple-A farm club just down the road would have ensured that players getting the call wouldn’t be the subject of a five-hour flight, sometimes a red eye, to make a home game the next day.

Per minor league policy, Anthopolous was only allowed to speak openly about relocation as of Sunday.

The Mets and Blue Jays are the only two teams that finish their seasons with expiring triple-A contracts.

The Jays renewed their agreements with other farm teams earlier this season, including Class-A Lansing, and double-A New Hampshire.

A renewal with the double-A Fishercats stomped out any hope that the Jays might return a minor-league team to Ottawa, at least for the next two years.

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By: Steph Rogers
Posted: Sep 17 2012 10:09 pm
Filed under: Baseball Sports