The Athletics just signed a deal to make Nashville their Triple-A affiliate. After fifteen years, the River Cats will leave Sacramento behind. The move will push Oakland’s Triple-A team further away, but it may give them a more neutral run environment and a nicer home park. Perhaps proximity is overrated?
For a team that seemingly gets the most of their forty-man roster, you’d think the A’s would want their Triple-A team closer by than Nashville. Need Drew Pomeranz for a start? He’s just a bus ride away, ready to go. Need an extra infielder tonight? Call Sacramento and tell them to get Andy Parrino in his car.
Turns out, the A’s don’t actually shuttle more than your average major league team. Below is a table that shows the number of callups by team. The third column shows DL activity (both on and off the DL) as a sanity check — a DL’ed star begets a minor league callup, after all. Courtesy ProSportsTransactions.com:
20 teams have made more minor league moves than the A’s, despite the fact that only eight teams had more disabled list moves.
So it seems the team decided that the benefits of moving to Nashville outweighed the benefit of having the team closer by for thirty-odd moves a year. Fresno was available, for example.
What were the benefits to Nashville? Well, Nashville is building a new 10,000 seat park that will open next year, so that’s nice. That means better facilities for their young players, and perhaps better health outcomes. The contract is fairly boilerplate with little room for negotiation, and there’s absolutely no chance that the Nashville stadium sweetened the deal at all.
But the Athletics also move into what looks like a more neutral run environment. We don’t know yet how the new stadium will play, but the PCL Pacific Western Division — Sacramento, Reno, Tacoma, Fresno — holds three of the highest-scoring teams in the league. In the new American South division, Memphis scored the most, and it came in ninth overall in the PCL.
If there are ancillary benefits to having your Triple-A team close, there are also ancillary benefits to a more neutral run environment. For the ease of travel — not only for players, but for scouts and team employees — the team acquired a park that may keep their players more healthy while also allowing their pitchers to develop in a more normal run-scoring division.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.
Um, the A’s didn’t choose anything. The River Cats chose to partner up with the Giants, so the A’s were forced to find a new AAA affiliate.
I didn’t see that in my research and the A’s announced signing with Nashville before the Giants decision, from what I saw on Twitter. Do you have a source?
It’s been reported through anonymous sources throughout the season that the Raley Field ownership group saw the Giants as a bigger prize. Here’s one dating back to mid-May.