The Nationals have used three different Class AAA affiliates in their brief history, but in Syracuse they have found a more permanent home for the top rung of their minor league system.
The Nationals and Chiefs will announce a renewal of their partnership with a four-year agreement, according to multiple people familiar with the situation. The Chiefs have called a press conference for Wednesday, which General Manager Mike Rizzo will attend with other members of the Nationals’ front office.
The Nationals spent their first two seasons in Washington using New Orleans as the home for their Class AAA affiliate. They moved to Columbus for another two years, then switched to Syracuse five years ago. The chilly weather presents issues, particularly for pitchers’ arms, and there are closer locations. But in Syracuse the Nationals have found an affiliate they want to grow with.
Syracuse is just a six-hour drive from Washington, and the
Eastern International League cities are close enough that players can join the Nationals’ in Washington on short notice. If the Nationals tried to find a new affiliate, they could be stuck with an undesirable, far-flung city. Teams and Class AAA affiliates match up in the fashion of musical chairs, and some organizations are left with choices they loathe – the Mets, for example, use Las Vegas against their wishes.
The Nationals’ rookie ball affiliate, Auburn, is right down the road from Syracuse, which adds convenience for team officials and scouts who want to see both teams.