Blue Jays Double-A franchise in Ottawa and Triple-A club in Buffalo in 2013?


Image courtesy of Buffalo Sports Daily

A little over two weeks ago, I touched on a report that progress was being made in bringing professional baseball back to Ottawa, likely in the form of a Double-A Eastern League franchise. In that article, two scenarios that were presented were either moving the Jays’ existing Double-A affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, to the nation’s capital, or that the New York Mets’ current Double-A club, the Binghamton Mets, were going to head north instead.

According to the Ottawa Citizen as of yesterday, not only does it appear that the possibility of a Double-A franchise in Ottawa is inching closer to a reality, but that the Jays and Mets would, in essence, swap Double-A affiliations at the end of the 2012 season.

In light of a few other recent reports, though, the Jays could very well have minor league franchises in both Ottawa and Buffalo in 2013.

The Ottawa Citizen article speculates that “all signs indicate” Ottawa would become the new home of the Binghamton Mets, New York’s current Double-A affiliate that had the lowest average and total attendances in the Eastern League in 2011. With that franchise moving to Ottawa to become the Jays’ new Double-A affiliate, the Mets would then take control of a franchise in a more lucrative environment given the Fisher Cats’ fan base. That would make sense for them, as they’d be taking over a much more successful Double-A franchise plus the Fisher Cats’ stadium, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, would be nearly the same distance from Citi Field than Binghamton’s is.

But there’s a another scenario that could make even more sense.

On Tuesday, primarily in response to the Ottawa rumors in an effort to quiet the speculation, the Binghamton Mets’ ownership group extended its lease at their current stadium until the end of the 2016 season.

“We have had a great relationship with the City of Binghamton since 1994 and we are eagerly looking forward to playing ball here for the next five years, and hopefully many years thereafter,” B-Mets president Michael Urda said in an article on pressconnects.com.

Couple that with the fact that Beacon Sports currently lists the New Hampshire Fisher Cats as one of their clients on their website, and there could be something entirely different going on here.

“[Eastern League commissioner Joe] McEacharn confirmed Wednesday the league has given permission to Beacon Sports, a Massachusetts-based brokerage firm, to explore Ottawa for the relocation of one of its existing franchises in time for the 2013 season,” it says in the Ottawa Citizen article.

Nowhere does it say that Beacon Sports is looking to purchase the Binghamton Mets and move them to Ottawa, only that they have received approval to move one of their existing franchises.

Assuming that that franchise is the Fisher Cats and that they would even want to relocate to Ottawa for the 2013 season, that would create a hole in New Hampshire to be filled by another minor league club. Not Binghamton’s franchise, though, but rather the Mets’ current Triple-A club, the Buffalo Bisons, whose player development contract expires at the end of the 2012 season.

The Jays narrowly missed out on Buffalo as a Triple-A affiliate prior to the 2009 season, when the Mets managed to win the sweepstakes and Toronto had to settle for Las Vegas. The Jays would surely like to get out of Las Vegas and move their Triple-A club closer to home, and according to ESPN New York on Monday, a Triple-A club in Buffalo could open up for other teams very soon.

“The Mets’ second two-year player-development agreement with Buffalo expires after the 2012 season. And dissatisfaction with the product the Mets are supplying has the Bisons leaning toward switching affiliations when the current agreement expires, according to industry sources.

“The Mets were able to smooth things over with Buffalo and keep them as an affiliate after the original two-year agreement expired because of Terry Collins’ hiring to oversee the minors in 2010 and his popularity in Buffalo.”

What better big league franchise to take over the on-field product in Buffalo than the Toronto Blue Jays, who have one of, if not the best minor league system in baseball right now? With that, in addition to the Jays’ obvious proximity to Buffalo, and the Bisons could bet on an increase in attendance from being affiliated with the Blue Jays.

So, folks, what could possibly be the plan in motion right now is for the Jays to not just have a Double-A affiliate in Ottawa but also a Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo by the the start of the 2013 season.

- JM

Like what you read and want to stay informed on all updates here at Jays Journal? Follow us on Twitter (@JaysJournal), “Like” our Facebook page, or grab our RSS feed!

Tags: Binghmaton Mets Buffalo Bisons Double-A Eastern League Las Vegas 51s (AAA) New Hampshire Fisher Cats New York Mets Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A

  • patrick.bergermann

    Great scoop on this storyline. I can think of no more important development step for the Jays than to get out of Vegas. Forcing their minor league pitching to jump from AA to the MLB just to avoid pitching in the PCL is obviously less than ideal.

    Keep up the great investigative reporting!

  • patrick.bergermann

    Great scoop on this storyline. I can think of no more important development step for the Jays than to get out of Vegas. Forcing their minor league pitching to jump from AA to the MLB just to avoid pitching in the PCL is obviously less than ideal.

    Keep up the great investigative reporting!

  • gnor

    I think Rogers should just buy The Bisons and be done with it. It would mean the end of Mike McCoy’s frequent flyer miles, though!

  • gnor

    I think Rogers should just buy The Bisons and be done with it. It would mean the end of Mike McCoy’s frequent flyer miles, though!

  • Boffo

    This story about the Jays moving their Double A affiliate to Ottawa is completely ridiculous.

    The Jays are extremely happy about their double A affiliation with New Hampshire and have no plans to leave.

    Also of note, – the Fisher Cats signed a territorial waiver with Larry Lucchino of the Boston Red Sox that precludes them from ever having an affiliation with either the Mets or the Yankees.

    Read Kevin Gray’s article on the Ottawa story here:

    http://www.unionleader.com/article/20111118/SPORTS/711189960

  • Boffo

    This story about the Jays moving their Double A affiliate to Ottawa is completely ridiculous.

    The Jays are extremely happy about their double A affiliation with New Hampshire and have no plans to leave.

    Also of note, – the Fisher Cats signed a territorial waiver with Larry Lucchino of the Boston Red Sox that precludes them from ever having an affiliation with either the Mets or the Yankees.

    Read Kevin Gray’s article on the Ottawa story here:

    http://www.unionleader.com/article/20111118/SPORTS/711189960

  • Jared_Macdonald

    @[email protected] The Bisons would certainly be a great fit and I have always felt that, the ballpark is very nice and it’s right off the main highway in Buffalo. The recent reports about the Mets are definitely good news for the Jays and their quest to rid themselves of Vegas!

  • Jared_Macdonald

    @Boffo Boffo, thanks for the comment. The idea of Double-A baseball in Ottawa isn’t that ridiculous, but given the strong relationship between the Jays and the Fisher Cats, it does raise a lot of questions.

    As for Gray’s article, I’m well aware of it and read it about four minutes after he published it late Thursday night. Solid stuff. I was hoping to have an article up yesterday about that and other obstacles Ottawa faces, but it’ll likely be up today or tomorrow instead given my current time constraints..

  • Jared_Macdonald

    @[email protected] The Bisons would certainly be a great fit and I have always felt that, the ballpark is very nice and it’s right off the main highway in Buffalo. The recent reports about the Mets are definitely good news for the Jays and their quest to rid themselves of Vegas!

  • Jared_Macdonald

    @Boffo Boffo, thanks for the comment. The idea of Double-A baseball in Ottawa isn’t that ridiculous, but given the strong relationship between the Jays and the Fisher Cats, it does raise a lot of questions.

    As for Gray’s article, I’m well aware of it and read it about four minutes after he published it late Thursday night. Solid stuff. I was hoping to have an article up yesterday about that and other obstacles Ottawa faces, but it’ll likely be up today or tomorrow instead given my current time constraints..

  • northernjay

    If the Jays are indeed interested in moving 2 minor league teams in 2013, London should rate serious consideration for the AA team. London is a great sports town and happens to have an outstanding ball park, the oldest in the world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labatt_Park Having the Labatt name on the park doesn’t hurt. You don’t think Labatt wouldn’t be interested in upgrading that park if needed for a “Blue” Jays team? And 2 hours to Toronto for call ups.

  • northernjay

    If the Jays are indeed interested in moving 2 minor league teams in 2013, London should rate serious consideration for the AA team. London is a great sports town and happens to have an outstanding ball park, the oldest in the world http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labatt_Park Having the Labatt name on the park doesn’t hurt. You don’t think Labatt wouldn’t be interested in upgrading that park if needed for a “Blue” Jays team? And 2 hours to Toronto for call ups.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    Yeah, and that Buffalo Bisons logo looks pretty sick too.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    Yeah, and that Buffalo Bisons logo looks pretty sick too.