The Blue Jays and their AAA affiliate Buffalo announced a two-year renewal of their Player Development Contract earlier this week.
The Bisons have been a Toronto affiliate since 2013, and the partnership has proven very successful. Buffalo has a lengthy baseball history dating back to 1877. Forbes listed the Bisons as the 15th most valuable minor league franchise in a 2016 listing.
There is a list of items both sides want from a succesful affiliation. For the MLB team, it’s a place for the appropriate development of their players, which would extend beyond the stadium itself, and include training facilities, as well as space for visiting team officials. For the affiliate, a steady supply of prospects that makes the team interesting (if not always in contention) for the fans is the primary requirement.
In the case of this relationship, the proximity of Buffalo to Toronto has had some distinct added advantages. With only a 90-minute drive (give or take, depending on the Gardiner) between the two cities, players can be summoned quickly when the Blue Jays are at home. The close distance also helps to further grow the brand of both teams.
In an email, Blue Jays VP Ben Cherington, who oversees the club’s minor league operations, said:
We’re excited to extend the relationship. Aside from the obvious geographic advantages, what resonates with me about Buffalo is just how the team means to the people who own the team, work for the team, and root for the team. People from Buffalo are proud to be from there, and proud of all things that come from Buffalo – including the Bisons. That creates an environment that aligns with ours….people care about the team and the team’s performance. ……we like the idea of our AAA players playing in that sort of environment as the last step toward the Major Leagues.
PDC’s come up for renewal every other year in even years. Two is the usual number of years that they are renewed for, although the Blue Jays extended their agreement with the Northwest League’s Vancouver Canadians to 2022 a few months ago. The only other PDC that expires at the end of the year in the organization is with Bluefield of the Appalachian League, although the expectation is that will be renewed as well.