With MLB releasing the names of the affiliates “invited” to become minor league “franchisees” today, we have learned that the rumours of a reversal in High A partners in the Blue Jays system were correct.
The Vancouver Canadians will become the Blue Jays affiliate in a newly expanded full season Northwest League. The Jays’ former High A club, the Lansing Lugnuts, will now join the Oakland organization, as the former Low A Midwest League will also take a step up to High A. Several weeks ago, the C’s seemed set on transferring to the Oakland system.
According to Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province, British Colombia Premier John Horgan played a direct role in the switch:
.@vancanadians co-owner Jake Kerr says @jjhorgan deserves an assist for the @BlueJays and the C’s staying together. Kerr says he’s heard from the Toronto people that Horgan called Edward Rogers, the Blue Jays chairman, and told him how important the teams’ partnership was here.— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) December 9, 2020
There is no doubt that the Blue Jays-C’s connection has helped the Vancouver club become one of the most successful operations in all of minor league baseball. But the C’s deserve accolades for how they have marketed the club, and while there may have been a drop off if they left the Toronto umbrella, Vancouver is a very good baseball town.
The challenge now is how the C’s marketing staff will promote the club on a full-season minor league basis. The contracted Northwest League will play a 132 game schedule that will begin in May.
So it appears the Northwest League will contract to six teams as it moves to High-A baseball:
– Vancouver Canadians (#BlueJays)
– Everett AquaSox (#Mariners)
– Spokane Indians (#Rockies)
– Tri-City Dust Devils (#Angels)
– Hillsboro Hops (#Dbacks)
– Eugene Emeralds (#SFGiants)— Mark Miller (@markdmiller2) December 9, 2020
A fan of both the Lansing and Vancouver franchises admits to decidedly mixed feelings. For Blue Jays prospect watchers in Southern Ontario, Lansing is a 4 or 5 hour drive away, and offers a chance to look at top farmhands taking their first crack at full season play. The atmosphere at The Nat is second to none, and Vancouver is the country’s most beautiful city, hands down. Lansing’s ballpark is a little gem just down the street from the state capitol, while the Nat is in a beautiful parkland setting in the middle of the city.
MLB’s overhaul of the minors was supposed to taken geographic considerations into account. This move certainly isn’t a fit from that standpoint, and while it likely won’t make the Jays player devo staff happy, it will please Rogers marketing people on the west coast.