Earlier this off-season, word came out that the Vancouver Canadians, one of the Blue Jays’ short-season rookie ball affiliates, would be becoming a minor-league affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
Shortly after, though, Mark Shapiro said that the report about the Canadians and Blue Jays parting ways wasn’t factual.
“Major League Baseball has been overwhelmed with the amount of variables they’ve had to deal with this year and the timing on a minor league plan for next year,” Shapiro said. “Although we’ve got some loose insight, but we haven’t gotten a firm answer on what that’s going to look like. I think an understanding that it’s going to be a reduced number of teams, that short-season baseball is certainly not going to be the same.
What we do know is that a big part of MLB’s slashing of the minor leagues has to do with getting rid of short-season ball and increasing focus on having newly-drafted players go to instructional camps.
Over at Ballpark Digest, there’s a huge list that’s keeping track of which teams and leagues are getting chopped and which affiliates are moving around to accommodate these changes. It has the Buffalo Bisons and New Hampshire Fisher Cats remaining as they are as Toronto’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates and Dunedin moving to Low-A as the Florida State League slides down a level.
The place of uncertainty for the Blue Jays is High-A, which could be either Lansing or Vancouver. Both the Midwest League and the Northwest League, the leagues of Lansing and Vancouver respectively, are becoming High-A leagues. That would mean that either of those two teams could be Toronto’s High-A affiliate.
Obviously, it makes more sense geographically for Toronto to have its High-A team in Lansing because then the big-league club and all of its affiliates would be located in the eastern part of the continent. But it’s also nice for Canadian fans out west to have the ability to watch baby Blue Jays as they work their way up the system.
The geography argument is only really necessary if we’re talking about Triple-A and Double-A clubs because those are the players who could actually be called up to the big-league team. Does it really matter that much if a guy is going from Low-A to High-A and they have to get on a flight to Vancouver?
I understand Lansing makes more sense, but it would be nice for Canadian fans to keep an affiliate in the country.