WASHINGTON – It should be no surprise that fans of the Nationals who live in Virginia would love see a Triple-A team in Richmond next season for the 2019 World Series champions.
Richmond Times-Dispatch writer John O’Connor reported earlier this week that his sources tell him Virginia’s capital, “seems positioned well to link with the Nationals.”
A spokesperson for the Nationals told the reporter simply, “We will not be commenting on this topic.”
The Nationals signed a two-year deal with Fresno, California to be the home of their top affiliate before the 2019 season. That deal ran out earlier this fall.
Richmond has been the Double-A home of the San Francisco Giants’ affiliate since 2010.
The Richmond Flying Squirrels play in the Eastern League. That is also the home of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Nationals since the first season in Washington in 2005.
Harrisburg was in the Eastern League from 1924-35 and then came back in 1987.
The Senators were a farm team for several years of the Montreal Expos, who had one of the top systems in the minors in the 1990s.
Montreal moved to Washington in time for the 2005 season.
Richmond, however, has a long history as a Triple-A affiliate.
The city was home to the Braves’ top farm team from 1966 to 2008 and was also a Triple-A training ground for the New York Yankees from 1956 to 1964.
The Diamond in Richmond was home to the Triple-A All-Star game in 1992 and the Double-A Eastern League midsummer classic in 2019.
Nationals’ prospects who took part in the 2019 All-Star game in Richmond included catcher Tres Barrera, outfielder Rhett Wiseman, and pitcher Aaron Barrett.
Barrera broke in with the Nationals in 2019, and Wiseman played for Harrisburg last year, while Barrett saw time with the Nationals in 2020.
Willie Harris, who played for the Nationals in 2008-09, was the manager of Richmond in the Giants’ farm system in 2018-19.
The Georgia native hit the first inside-the-park homer in the history of Nationals Park, in 2010.
Harris was the second native of Cairo, Georgia to make the majors – the first was Jackie Robinson, whose family later moved to California.
Harris moved to player development with the Reds after the 2019 season.
A former Orioles’ player as well, Harris enjoyed his time with the Nationals.
“Right now they have a great thing going there. I am happy for the Lerner family and happy for Nats’ Nation. I have a special place in my heart for them,” he told this reporter in 2018. He was right – the Nats won the World Series about a year later.
If the Nationals land in Richmond, Harris can certainly fill them in on The Diamond – which according to reports is not up to Triple-A standards.
There has been talk of a new stadium in Richmond for years.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month that the Giants plan to leave Richmond. Other reports having Fresno moving from Triple-A to the Single-A California League.
The Minnesota Twins recently confirmed they plan to leave Rochester, NY where they have had their top affiliate since 2003 in the Triple-A International League.
Another Triple-A possibility for the Nationals is Nashville, which was the home of the Texas Rangers in 2019-20 – though there was no season this year due to the pandemic.
Before the two-year deal with Fresno, the Nationals’ Triple-A home was in Syracuse.
That minor league team is now owned by the New York Mets, who moved to Syracuse in time for the 2019 season.