The Syracuse Chiefs are the third Triple-A team the Nationals have had as an affiliate in their nine years of existence.
Today, the Nats announced that they’ll be sticking with the Chiefs a while longer.
The Nationals have agreed to a four-year player development contract with the Chiefs, who play in the Triple-A International League. The deal will begin in 2015 and run through the 2018 season.
“This is the first PDC that we have signed with an affiliate in excess of two years and it speaks to how much the Nationals organization values the Chiefs and the Syracuse community,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “In a sports-centric town like Syracuse, the Chiefs are a community pillar and we are proud to be aligned with both the town and the team.”
“Our five seasons here in Syracuse have been fantastic. This is home for us,” said vice president of player personnel Bob Boone. “We are also excited about the lineup and power pitching that will make its way through Syracuse this summer and beyond. The best is yet to come for Central New York baseball fans.”
In their first two seasons in D.C., the Nationals used New Orleans as their Triple-A affiliate. They then shifted to Columbus for two years, starting in 2007. And for the last five, the Nats have teamed up with the Chiefs, who obviously play in colder climates but are a reasonably easy six-hour drive from D.C.
Syracuse is also just 250 miles north of Harrisburg, where the Nationals have their Double-A affiliate, the Senators.
Switching affiliates can be a tricky proposition, because if you make your intentions to change public, you risk getting left out to dry. Major league teams are always looking for closer affiliates, ones that present easier travel options and opportunities for scouts to watch multiple teams in a close proximity, and while the Nats might have preferred to find a Triple-A affiliate closer to D.C., Syracuse would have been an attractive option for a number of teams in the northeast.
Rather than risk losing Syracuse as a partner, the Nats decided to lock up a longer-term deal with an affiliate with which it has a solid working relationship.
“The rebuilding of this organization is founded on developing and nurturing partnerships,” Chiefs president Bill Dutch said. “The Nationals have shown themselves to be a successful organization and a fantastic partner, and the Chiefs are thrilled to continue the relationship with them.”