Here’s some bad news for Blue Jays fans out west.
It appears as though the Vancouver Canadians, who have been the Blue Jays’ short-season rookie ball affiliate since 2011, are becoming a full-season affiliate for the Oakland Athletics.
👀 interesting baseball development (to my interests + geography, anyways)
— Mike McKinnon (@mikemckinnon) October 20, 2020
The original Vancouver Canadians played in the Pacific League back in the Good Old Days with the Edmonton Trappers and Calgary Cannons. But, in 2000, they got purchased by new ownership and packed up and moved south to Sacramento, California. Calgary and Edmonton would soon follow.
Immediately after the original Canadians moved south, a new Canadians franchise popped up and became a Class-A affiliate for the A’s. They would be an Oakland affiliate from 2000 to 2010 before reaching a deal to become one of the Blue Jays’ rookie ball teams.
So, really, affiliating with Oakland isn’t anything new, it’s actually a throwback. It’s just a shame that fans in Vancouver and the rest of Western Canada aren’t going to be able to watch baby Blue Jays play in Vancouver anymore. Guys like Marcus Stroman, Kevin Pillar, Noah Syndergaard, and Cavan Biggio played for the Canadians at Nat Bailey Stadium over the years.
This is a reality of MLB’s big-picture plan to slash the number of organized affiliates that each team has out there. MLB organizations can save a bunch of cash by not having four full-season teams and four or five more short-season teams on top of that, so that’s inevitably the path that they’re going to take in the age of hyper-efficiency, even if it ultimately isn’t good for the long-term health of the sport.
The short-season rookie league Bluefield Blue Jays have already been eliminated and the assumption is that the organization will roll with affiliates in Buffalo, New Hampshire, Dunedin, and Lansing.
The plan seems to be for short-season ball to be eliminated. My guess is that we’ll see more newly-drafted prospects head to skill-development sites rather than competitive leagues right off the hop.
Again, it’s shitty news for Blue Jays fans out west but it isn’t overly surprising given how MLB is gutting minor-league ball. As great as it is for the Jays to have a Canadian affiliate for fans, it’s a big stretch to send prospects all the way across the country for full-season affiliated ball. Buffalo, New Hampshire, and Lansing are all ideal for proximity and the organization’s fancy new complex is in Dunedin.
There’s really just no way to fit Vancouver into the Blue Jays’ affiliate mix in Rob Manfred’s anti-MiLB world. On the bright side, at least there’s still affiliated ball in Vancouver. There was no guarantee they would survive this slash.