- The Washington Times
Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Washington Nationals have a new Class AAA affiliate — and received an assist from Sen. Chuck Schumer to secure it.

The Nationals and the Rochester Red Wings are now partnered, cutting out the long-distance travel headaches caused by the two-year spell with the Fresno Grizzlies. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle first reported the news Thursday, and Schumer, New York Democrat, confirmed it on Twitter, saying he “secured a commitment” from Washington.

The Nationals made it official Thursday afternoon.

“We are very excited to partner with the Rochester Red Wings and to have our Triple-A affiliate back in the region,” Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “The Red Wings are a well-built, well-run organization that will be an asset to our player development system, and we are proud to be a part of Rochester, New York’s rich baseball tradition that dates back to the late 1800s.”

Washington has experience with teams in the International League, which Rochester is in. The Syracuse Chiefs were the Nationals’ Class AAA affiliate for 10 years and played in that league. The New York Mets bought the Chiefs in 2017. Before joining forces with Washington, the Red Wings had been affiliated with the Minnesota Twins since 2003. They were previously affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles from 1961 to 2002 and St. Louis Cardinals from 1929 to 1960.

There are over 2,000 advantages of having the Class AAA affiliate in Rochester — and all of those are miles. Having an affiliate in California meant the Nationals kept most of their go-to options for quick call-ups at their Class AA location in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, opting to avoid the long-haul flights.

Now, there’s just under 400 miles between the major league club and minor league partner. It’s a driveable distance if it’s a worst-case scenario. The Buffalo airport is about an hour away, too, and Rochester’s airport does offer some nonstop flights to D.C.-area airports.

Minor League Baseball is undergoing a major restructure that could see MLB shedding affiliates. MLB, which now runs MiLB, has proposed cutting 40 minor league affiliates in 2021.


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