BY RYAN ABER
It’s no secret that this could well be the last year for the Texas Rangers to have their Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City.
The Rangers-Oklahoma City connection has been a long and productive one for both sides, as the teams have been tied together since 1983. Only three Major League teams–Kansas City, Boston and the Chicago Cubs–have been tied with a single Triple-A city longer. Kansas City-Omaha started in 1969, Boston-Pawtucket in 1970 and the Chicago Cubs-Des Moines in 1981.
But it seems likely that the Rangers-Oklahoma City connection will come to an end once this season if over. Texas appears to have its eye on Round Rock, which is slightly closer to Arlington than Oklahoma City but much closer in connection. Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who will soon become the part-owner of the team, is also part of the ownership group of the Round Rock Express. Ryan’s sons, Reid and Reese, are executives with the Express.
So what will happen to Oklahoma City if the RedHawks and the Rangers do part ways? The city is virtually assured of hosting a Triple-A team here next year, although whichever team moves its affiliate here might be a short-term solution.
Player Development Contracts (PDCs) are signed in either two- or four-year increments with the contracts expiring at the end of even-numbered years.
This year, 19 PDCs across the Pacific Coast and International leagues expire:
New York Mets-Buffalo
Chicago White Sox-Charlotte
Los Angeles Dodgers-Albuquerque
Three teams (Tampa Bay-Durham, New York Yankees-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Anaheim-Salt Lake) have already extended their PDCs to 2014.
While a Houston-for-Texas swap seems the most logical choice, there are several other scenarios. The Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers have also been rumored to be interested in Oklahoma City as a possible Triple-A affiliate.
But look for any PDC after this year to be a two-year deal. The reason? The Cardinals.
St. Louis’ PDC with Memphis expires after the 2012 season and there have been indications the partnership between those cities, which began in 1998, could end. The team has had financial difficulties of late and last year, a new venue-management firm was brought in to manage the Redbirds and AutoZone Park. There have been talks, but no movement, on a sale of that franchise. St. Louis and Oklahoma City would be a good match if the Cardinals decide to leave Memphis. The Cardinals have long been one of the favorite teams of Oklahomans, especially in radio’s glory days with the signal strength of KMOX. Six Oklahoma radio stations are already Cardinals affiliates. That’s two more than the state has Texas Rangers radio affiliates.