Citing unnamed sources, the Oklahoman reported on its website today that the Dodgers will switch Triple-A affiliates from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City next season.
According to the report, a “group affiliated with the Dodgers” is in the final stages of purchasing the Oklahoma City Redhawks from Mandalay Sports Entertainment. Dodgers co-owner Peter Guber serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Mandalay Baseball Properties, a subsidiary of MSE.
The Dodgers have been affiliated with the Albuquerque Isotopes since 2009. From 1963-2000, the Dodgers were affiliated with the Albuquerque Dukes before switching their Triple-A affiliate to Las Vegas. The Dodgers aren’t saying anything about a possible move. The club’s director of player development, De Jon Watson, told the Albuquerque Journal that switching affiliates “hasn’t been talked about internally.” Team president Stan Kasten declined comment Friday.
Minor-league affiliate switches are common because player development contracts typically last two years. The Dodgers’ current player development contract with Albuquerque, signed in 2012, is set to expire in mid-September according to the Journal.
The Modesto Bee reported in July that the A’s, Giants and possibly the Brewers were all looking to switch affiliates next season. The Oklahoma City RedHawks are currently affiliated with the Houston Astros.
With a game of musical chairs already in place, it makes sense that the Dodgers might need a new seat. It makes sense from a business standpoint that Guber, one of the team’s co-owners, might be able to facilitate a move to Oklahoma City.
The move also makes baseball sense. I talked to Dodgers third-base coach Lorenzo Bundy today about the challenge of grooming major-leaguers in Albuquerque’s high-altitude environment (Isotopes Park is approximately 5,300 feet above sea level). More about that in a future blog post.