The River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the A’s since moving to West Sacramento in 2000, are expected to seek an affiliation change after filing last week for permission to talk with other major-league teams.
It has been widely speculated the River Cats hope to affiliate with the Giants because of the National League team’s popularity among area fansea. The Giants have won two of the past four World Series.
Tuesday is the first day minor-league teams can officially talk with major-league franchises about affiliation. All minor-league teams must have a player development contract with a major-league team by Sept. 30.
River Cats spokesman Mark Ling, though, said agreements are normally reached quickly because there are few deal points to discuss. Ling said the River Cats likely will make an announcement regarding next season this week. Team president Jeff Savage did not respond Monday to a request for comment.
The River Cats’ partnership with the A’s has benefited both sides. Their proximity has allowed the A’s to call up players from their top minor-league affiliate and have them in Oakland within hours. The River Cats, meanwhile, have reached the Pacific Coast League playoffs in 11 of 15 seasons and won four PCL championships. The team also has been a success at the Raley Field box office, leading the minor leagues in attendance in eight of the past 10 years.
A’s officials did not comment Monday on the River Cats’ recent filing. But A’s assistant general manager David Forst told the San Jose Mercury News the A’s “have tried to engage with Jeff (Savage) several times about extending the affiliation. They were not interested.”
Other PCL teams granted permission to seek new affiliations included those in Nashville, Tenn., Fresno, Albuquerque, N.M., Oklahoma City and Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Fresno Grizzlies have been the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate since 1998. Team officials released a statement Monday saying, “Our organization remains committed to the San Francisco Giants” and that the Grizzlies “continue to seek a renewal with the Giants.”
However, a CSNBayArea.com report Monday citing an anonymous Giants source said the major-league team is “99 percent certain” to affiliate with the River Cats. The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, has reported the A’s would be interested in moving their affiliation to Nashville, where the Sounds will open a new stadium in 2015.
The Grizzlies have not enjoyed the same success as the River Cats during their affiliation with the Giants, recording five winning seasons and one first-place finish.
Regardless of Sacramento’s parent organization, team officials have said the club will continue to be called the River Cats.