Mariners, Rainiers renew agreements

Photo by Rocky Ross

Last week Tacoma Rainiers President Aaron Artman and Seattle Mariners Director of Player Development Andy McKay announced a four-year extension of their player development contract that will run through the 2022 season.

The partnership between Tacoma and Seattle has been in place since 1995, making their affiliation one of the strongest and longest-lasting affiliate relationships in baseball. The Rainiers’ 2019 season will be the 25th as the Mariners’ top minor league affiliate.

“This has always been a great relationship,” Rainiers owner Mikal Thomsen said. “Our fans in Tacoma and I are all Mariners fans, so it is a natural thing to follow players on both teams from the fan standpoint. On the business side, the Mariners – to a person and as an organization – have been great to work with, and we look forward to maintaining this affiliation far into the future.”

Since joining the Seattle organization, Tacoma has collected five division titles, three conference championships and two Pacific Coast League championships (2001, 2010). Rainiers players and field staff have also accumulated numerous awards over the course of the affiliation, including 47 mid-season all-star selections, one PCL pitcher of the year, two PCL rookies of the year, three PCL managers of the year, five league ERA champions and one league strikeout champion.

“The Mariners are excited to be able to extend our relationship with the Rainiers,” McKay said. “The Rainiers have consistently demonstrated their commitment to providing the best possible environment for our prospects to develop, as well as providing an opportunity for baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest to meet the next generation of Mariners.”

”Being Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate makes sens for this franchise on so many levels,” Artman remarked. “We are thrilled to extend this partnership with the Mariners, and look forward to showcasing their top prospects at Cheney Stadium for years to come.”

“The relationship between the Mariners and the Rainiers has been a staple of baseball in the Pacific Northwest since 1995,” said Mariners Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Dipoto. “While we are two franchises, we remain one baseball family and could not be more thankful for our terrific partners in Tacoma. We fully believe this is simply the next chapter in what will soon be a quarter century of tradition.” Affiliate agreements are based on several factors, with the proximity of the minor league and big league cities and the condition of the minor league ballpark and training facilities being the two main ones. In that respect, the announcement from the Mariners was expected. Several cities in the PCL have been in the process of baseball musical chairs. The PCL team in Las Vegas has been an affiliate of the New York Mets for the past few years. The Mets will switch to Syracuse, N.Y. next year. With a new ballpark opening next year, Las Vegas is a more attractive location. The Oakland Athletics spent the past four years with their affiliate in Nashville. This week they announced a two-year deal with Las Vegas.

The Milwaukee Brewers spent the past four years affiliated with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. That team will get a new name in its new home in San Antonio, where they will play beginning next season. The contract between the two organizations expired after this season, but Brewers have decided to renew with the team as their move to Texas. It is a two-year deal.

The Fresno Grizzlies had been the affiliate of the Houston Astros. The Astros will shift their affiliate to Round Rock, Texas next season. Fresno has signed a two-year contract with the Washington Nationals, which had been affiliated with Syracuse.

Meanwhile the Texas Rangers, who had been affiliated with Round Rock, have entered into an agreement with the Nashville Sounds.

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