Here Comes the PDC Frenzy

Sport Change interrupts the football binge to focus back on baseball for a quick moment.  September 16th (tomorrow, as of this writing) is the first day of the Minor League Baseball PDC (Player Development Contract) shakeup period, which lasts through the month.  There will be new affiliations forged and old affiliations ignored.  Frenzy time.

It’s a free for all!!! Well, maybe that’s overselling it. It’s mildly interesting.

Background

Brief intro: PDCs are signed between Minor League baseball franchises and MLB parent clubs.  The contracts expire on even numbered years.   Teams can sign long term extensions; one example being the New York Yankees and their double-A affiliate the Trenton Thunder.  The Yanks and the Thunder are joined at the hip until 2022 at the earliest.  Most contracts, however, are extensions of two or maybe four years.

Since 2012 is obviously an even numbered year, unsigned contracts will expire.  There is a half-month shake-up period in September, wherein MLB teams are free to negotiate with other available affiliates and possibly sign on with new clubs.

Nearly all PDCs have been extended before this date, and many will re-up with their current clubs within the shake-up period.  That said, there will likely be considerable change, especially in the Midwest League and New York-Penn League.  Let’s go from top-to-bottom to evaluate all clubs with expiring PDCs:

AAA

At the top level of the minors, there are only two clubs with expiring PDCs; the Buffalo Bisons (New York Mets) and the Las Vegas 51s, affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.  I see this as being a dog-fight over the Bisons.  The Mets would most likely prefer to remain affiliated with in-state Buffalo rather than having to book cheap flights to Las Vegas in order to scout talent.  The Jays are likely fed up with their affiliation with the 51s, and Toronto and Buffalo are neighboring cities that essentially share a market.  This should be fun to watch.  My preditction: a switch-up!  Blue Jays land on the Bisons.  And pick bugs off them.

Will Toronto steal the Bisons or with the Mets slap a tag on the runner?

AA

Like AAA, there are only two teams left unsigned in AA: the Akron Aeros (Cleveland Indians) and the Arkansas Travelers (Anaheim Angels).  Unlike AAA, I see no reason why these two teams would switch.  Cleveland is lucky to have in-state Akron as an affiliate, despite Akron’s disappointing attendance numbers.  Maybe it’s a tactic to light a fire under Akron’s PR department.  The Angels would have little incentive to choose Akron over Arkansas; Little Rock is a shorter flight and the Travelers are a more successful club than Akron.  Verdict: no changes.

Advanced-A

High A only has three expiring contracts: the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) of the California League, the Fort Myers Miracle (Twins) of the Florida State League, and the Daytona Cubs–also of the FSL.  My guess is that the Angels have been too busy focusing on the AL wild card race to reaffiliate with their clubs.  Like the Mariners did over the last few days, there is a good chance that the Angels will simply sign all the papers on their three expiring contracts in one fell swoop.  There is no obvious reason that the Cubs and Twins would switch their FSL teams, so I foresee no changes at this level.

It would hard to imagine the Suns and Nats severing their partnership. Let’s just say the Bryce is right.

A

Now things get interesting.  In addition to two unsigned teams in the Sally League (Hagerstown and Lexington) there are a whopping eight unsigned teams in the Midwest League.  For starters, I see Hagerstown reupping with Washington.  The partnership works well both ways, and the distance traveled by Nat scouts to view talent like Bryce Harper (of a few years ago) is minimal.  There have been rumors of Houston showing interest in Midwest teams rather than the Legends, so we’ll at least explore that.  I don’t see why Houston would have that interest, considering that Lexington is a successful franchise that’s closer to Houston than any available teams in the MWL.

So that leaves us with the eight Midwest League teams: Beloit, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Dayton, Fort Wayne, Kane County, Peoria, and Quad Cities.  To start, I’m tossing out the Dayton Dragons.  I would be shocked if the Reds don’t re-sign with one of the most successful clubs in all the Minors.  In a previous post, Sport Change detailed a Midwest League reaffiliation based on information of about one month ago.  A lot has changed since then, but I’m also going to stick with at least two results from that study: Fort Wayne stays with San Diego, and Burlington stays with Oakland.  There just doesn’t seem to be any clear reason for those teams to switch affiliations.  Plus, I like how the A’s and the Bees are together.

This pun is too good to let go.  A’s and Bees need to stay together.

Scenario 1: Just Midwest Switches

Kane County Cougars to the Cubs.  This is all but set in stone.  Kansas City loses the Cougars, who sign on as an affiliate of nearby Chicago.

Cedar Rapids Kernels to the Twins.  Minnesota makes a play for a more successful franchise located in a town that’s closer to the Twin Cities than the current Beloit.

Beloit Snappers to the Royals.  The Royals snap up the Snappers to replace the departed Cougars.

Peoria Chiefs to Cardinals.  Rumor has it that St. Louis will be moving on from Quad Cities.  If so, I see them linking up with the former Cubs club, the Chiefs.

Quad Cities River Bandits to Angels.  The Angels lose Cedar Rapids.  They shrug and sign up with another Iowan club.

_

Scenario 2: Rumors of Houston

Cougars with Cubs.

Kernels with Twins.

Snappers with Royals.

Chiefs with Angels.  Peoria used to be an Angels affiliate, so this is a reunion of sorts.

River Bandits with Astros.  This one really buys into the notion that the ‘Stros are eyeing Quad Cities, so let’s indulge.  It may make no practical sense for Houston, but plenty in the Minors (and Majors) makes no practical sense.

Lexington Legends with Cardinals.  You can bet that there are Cardinals fans in Kentucky.  The distance is reasonable, and I could see a Cards/Stros swap.

Could Cardinal red be adorning Applebee’s Park next season?

_

Short Season A

Moving along to another level that could see some movement over the next two weeks.  Short Season A is a level that 22 MLB clubs have an affiliate in.  Fourteen teams comprise the New-York Penn League, and eight comprise the Northwest League.  I expect the Northwest League to remain the same.  The only contract left unsigned is the former Yakima Bears with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Bears will be moving to Hillsboro, Oregon, so maybe the D’Backs are just giving them time before the sign.  In the NY-Penn League, I would be shocked if Aberdeen and Baltimore decide to discontinue their fruitful coupling.  I also expect Pittsburgh to re-up with the State College Spikes, as they are the only Penn team available.  That leaves Jamestown and Batavia, two sleepy clubs in Western New York, and their respective affiliates: Miami and St. Louis.  There is no obvious reason for changes, so I see no reason to change anything.  Perhaps the only changes we’ll see in Short Season are if any of the eight MLB clubs (Dodgers, Angels, Brewers, White Sox, Twins, Royals, Braves, Reds) decide to give Short-Season a try and sign up with a club in either league.  We’ll see.

Yes, we will see.  Here’s a link to Minor League Baseball’s official press releases and here’s another to Minor League Source, a blog that stays on top the action.  Speaking of action, more football posts soon!

Click here for more Minor League baseball posts.

SPORT CHANGE

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11 comments
  1. MWLfan said:

    There’s no way in hell Oakland lands back in Burlington, Chief. None.

    • Well, MWLfan was right all along. Now the Angels have both Bees – in Burlington and Salt Lake.

  2. Fair enough. You must have the inside scoop. What is your suggestion? By saying “Chief,” we can assume that you think the A’s will go for the Peoria Chiefs, right?

    This chief thinks the A’s and Bees are a good match, especially in attendance. The A’s draw in the bottom 5 in MLB attendance and though I haven’t had access to 2012 numbers yet, the Bees typically draw in the bottom ten in all of MiLB.

    Perhaps a team like Cedar Rapids or Beloit is chomping at the bit for a crack at the A’s, but I doubt that to be the case.

    • Thanks for the link, Michael. The State College Spikes and St. Louis Cardinals are teaming up. I had heard that the Spikes were disgruntled with the Pirates and the Cards were ready to buck the Muckdogs. Sometimes rumors play out.

      I wonder if it will be swap? Maybe the Pirates will pick up Batavia. I’ll assume that Pittsburgh will want a NY-Penn team since they have no Appy or Pioneer league affiliate. Also…you know….Pitt is in Penn.

      Jamestown is closer to Pittsburgh, so I could see the Pirates going with the Jammers over the Muckdogs. That would leave Miami empty-handed. Will Marlin and Muckdog peacefully coexist?

      For the record: I would be shocked if Aberdeen and Baltimore went separate ways. Cal Ripken Jr threw out a first pitch for the Ironbirds recently.

  3. Updates:

    -Las Vegas will be the new AAA affiliate of the Mets, meaning that Buffalo and Toronto are now linked.
    -The Angels re-upped with Arkansas.

    Sometimes predictions are right!

  4. Updates:

    1. Fort Wayne extended with the Padres
    2. Daytona extended with the Cubs
    3. Pittsburgh signed on with the Jamestown Jammers

    What this means:

    1. That there was no point in changing this affiliation. For the same reason, I stand by Burlington sticking with Oakland.
    2. Advanced A is officially locked up. The 66ers will be extended as soon as the Angels take 5 minutes to sign their papers. Fort Myers will, by default, extend with the Twins.
    3. When the Spikes linked with the Cards, I guessed that the Bucs would sign on with Jamestown; simply due to the fact that it’s a short drive between the cities. Now we have the Marlins empty handed, and with no Appalachian or Pioneer affiliate they will no doubt be signing on with the Batavia Muckdogs. Aberdeen will stick with Baltimore.

  5. Finally, some Midwest League news:

    1. As expected, Kane County signed with the Cubs
    2. As predicted, Cedar Rapids signed on with the Twins
    3. The Peoria Chiefs signed on with the Cardinals

    Since I fully expect Dayton and Hagerstown to sign with their current clubs, that leaves us with Beloit, Burlington, Quad Cities, and Lexington. The parent clubs with possible change in low A are Houston, Oakland, Kansas City, and Anaheim.

    Sport Change’s predictions:
    -Though one commenter seemed pretty sure that change was imminent, I’m sticking with the A’s and Bees. If Oakland and Burlington do part ways, I could see Beloit linking up with Oakland.

    -I’m also standing by the Royals/Snappers prediction.

    -Lexington is apparently switching clubs, so I’ll guess Anaheim. I would not be surprised to see it be KC, though.

    -Houston is going with Quad Cities. I just have a hunch.

    We’ll see.

  6. Update:

    -Lexington has signed with the Royals.

    That leaves us with Houston, Oakland, and Anaheim vying for Beloit, Burlington, and Quad Cities. In the spirit of making predictions all the way to the absurd end, I’ll say:

    Beloit and Oakland
    Burlington and Anaheim
    Quad Cities and Houston

  7. -Quad Cities and Houston have linked up.

    One more prediction:

    -A’s stick with Bees
    -Angels and Snappers.

  8. Update:

    -Beloit is now with Oakland
    -Burlington is now with Anaheim

    The A’s and the Bees are no longer together. Hilariously, though, the Angels now have a single-A and a triple-A affiliate called the Bees in Burlington and Salt Lake City.

    That is it for the PDC frenzy. Time for a post reflecting on the PDC frenzy.

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