On Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a two-year player development contract with the Buffalo Bisons of the International League (AAA). The players will leave Las Vegas and begin playing baseball in Buffalo as soon as next year. The contract runs through to 2014.
Up until this year, the Bisons had a contract with the New York Mets, but were unhappy with attendance and decided it was time for a change. They play out of Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo.
Although this will not directly affect the talent that is put on display at the Rogers Centre, there are a number of advantages to moving the team to Buffalo.
There are minor changes that play a role, but were not the main reason behind the change. For starters, the new stadium seats almost 5 000 more spectators. With a young and entertaining team on the field, the Bisons could see their attendance spike.
Las Vegas, naturally, is a large tourist destination with a lively nightlife scene that players can get caught up in while playing there. Sometimes, sending young players out there is a gamble as to how they will handle themselves.
But now on to the more important reasons behind the move. The geographic proximity of the two cities will be a major factor. Having a Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas means large travel times for players getting called up and sent down. Toronto is the closest Major League team to Buffalo and the shortened distance will make it much easier to make player transactions.
The shortened distance between the parks will also make it easier for Blue Jays scouts and management to watch their Triple-A affiliate, something Alex Anthopoulos is excited about as noted by this Blue Jays press release.
Cashman Field in Las Vegas, where the Triple-A affiliate, Las Vegas 51s play, is known as a hitter's ballpark. This not only skews hitters' statistics, but can also negatively skew a pitcher’s as well. Especially in the minors, where young pitchers are constantly changing and adapting their delivery, having home run after home run fly out of the park is not exactly great for the confidence. The Blue Jays have been known to actually keep some prospects in Double-A New Hampshire and not send them to Las Vegas for this very reason.
Starting in 2013, the Toronto Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate will move from Las Vegas to Buffalo. Although it won’t affect the big league club on a day-to-day basis, there are a number of good reasons for the move.