When the New York Mets announced a player development deal with the Syracuse Chiefs in 2017, the Washington Nationals knew they would have to find a new Triple-A affiliate.
In a press release this afternoon, the Nationals announced that they have signed a two-year Player Development Contract with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
The contract begins in 2019 and runs through the end of the 2020 season.
Syracuse was the Nationals’ top minor league affiliate from 2009-2018. Fresno was the top affiliate for the Houston Astros from 2015-18.
“The Washington Nationals are excited to be partnering with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League,” Nationals’ President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo said in today’s press release on the agreement.
“Fresno is committed to player development and we hope this partnership will continue to yield success for both clubs on the field and off.”
The Grizzlies will be the fourth Triple-A affiliate for the Nationals since 2005.
The previous agreements were with Syracuse, Columbus (2007-2008) and New Orleans (2005-2006).
Fresno is part of the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Northern Division along with the Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks), Tacoma Rainiers (Seattle Mariners) and Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants), and the Grizzlies play in Chukchansi Park, an 11,800 seat stadium in Fresno, California.
“This is another thrilling new chapter for Fresno Grizzlies baseball. We can’t wait for the Nationals to get on the ground in Central California and see everything this community has to offer,” Derek Franks, Fresno’s team president said in today’s press release.
“Our new ownership group is continuing several upgrades to both the fan experience and baseball operations facets of Chukchansi Park that began during our previous PDC with Houston, including plans for a brand new playing surface in 2019. I believe the Washington Nationals will find this a comfortable place to cultivate all of their young talent, and will see early on how committed the fans of ‘Growlifornia’ are to baseball in the Central Valley.”