Nats keeping AAA club in Syracuse through '18

Nats keeping AAA club in Syracuse through '18
December 18, 2013, 2:45 pm
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The Syracuse Chiefs have served as the Nationals’ Class AAA affiliate for the last five years, and the two clubs will continue their partnership for at least five more years after Wednesday’s announcement of a player development contract extension that runs through 2018.

This new contract extension, a four-year agreement, is the first long-term deal the Nationals have made with any of their minor-league affiliates since the franchise arrived in town.

“It speaks to how much the Nationals organization values the Chiefs and the Syracuse community,” general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “In a sports-centric town like Syracuse, the Chiefs are a community pillar, and we are proud to be aligned with both the town and the team.”

After partaking in a bit of musical chairs with their Class AAA affiliates last decade — they partnered with New Orleans in 2005-06 and then Columbus in 2007-08 — the Nationals have now established some more-permanent roots in Syracuse.

It’s not the closest Class AAA market to Washington — 371 miles to the north — but it’s close enough to make player promotions and demotions with relative ease, and it allows club officials to make the short trip to see prospects in person.

By re-upping with Syracuse, the Nationals also stay in the International League, whose western-most club plays in Indianapolis. That’s an advantage over affiliating with, say, New Orleans, which plays in the Pacific Coast League and often finds itself three time zones away, complicating last-minute roster moves.

This new deal ensures the affiliation between the Nationals and Chiefs will run at least 10 total seasons, from 2009-18.

“Our five seasons here in Syracuse have been fantastic,” vice president of player personnel Bob Boone said. “This is home for us.”