Could the Saints Be Leaving the American Association?
American Association Daily provides insights and features on the American Association of Professional Baseball League, as well as player and coaching profiles and transactions going on with teams around the league. In today’s edition, Robert Pannier discusses the report that the St. Paul Saints could very well become an affiliate club of Major League Baseball.
The St. Paul Saints Joining Affiliate Ball?
As if the American Association doesn’t have enough trouble with the Covid-19 virus delaying the May 19 start until at least July, now comes the news that the St. Paul Saints could become an affiliate club. This, according to a report from Baseball America.
According to J.J. Cooper, as part of a plan to reduce minor league baseball by as many as 42 teams, two independent teams would also become affiliates. This includes the Atlantic League’s Sugarland Skeeters and the American Association’s St. Paul Saints.
Cooper writes, “If both sides agree, it would mean as many as 42 current minor league teams would be lopped off by eliminating short-season and Rookie ball. Two independent league teams, the St. Paul Saints and Sugar Land Skeeters, would be added to affiliated ball. The two sides are working on a potential deal to ensure the majority of those 42 markets would have still have baseball with ties to MLB in a system that has long-term viability.”
Not So Fast
The way the paragraph is written gives the impression that some serious discussions are underway for the Saints to become an affiliate to a Major League team and, in all fairness to Cooper, there was a proposal floated by MLB to MiLB that included the Saints becoming an affiliate club. This has been part of recent negotiations between the two organizations.
The problem is that the St. Paul Saints have never been a part of those discussions. In a recent interview with the Saints Vice-President and Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations, Sean Aronson, and team Executive Vice-President and General Manager Derek Sharrer, Sharrer explained:
“We’re just not involved in those conversations. That’s the reality. This has been an ongoing negotiation for nearly a year, maybe a little bit more now than a year, between MiLB and Major League Baseball. Not once have we been a part of that discussion. Obviously, we’ve been mentioned. We were mentioned in the J.J. Cooper article (back in October), we were actually mentioned in a proposal from Major League Baseball to MiLB, but we’ve never been involved in the conversation.”
Built to Be Independent
Cooper is clearly basing his assertions on what MLB would like. There is no doubt that they believe that if an independent team were asked to become an affiliate club they would jump at the opportunity. After all, they are the mighty Major League Baseball. Sharrer doesn’t see it that way.
“It’s flattering to be considered by Major League Baseball as a franchise that is worthy of the consideration that’s been discussed, but that doesn’t mean that we’re interested in making that move. Independent is in our DNA. We’ve been a proudly independent organization for 27 seasons and look forward to being an independent club moving forward. It’s who we been, it’s who we are.”
After what happened in Wichita two seasons ago, I will not say that this will not happen. One never knows what MLB will offer to the Saints to get them to join. However, the ownership of the Saints, Marv Goldklang, Mike Veeck, and Bill Murray, already own an affiliate team. They are getting the best of both worlds by having a team in the both affiliated and independent minor league baseball.
Plus, the Saints are the most recognizable name in independent baseball. In affiliate ball they would probably be just another minor league team. Why would they give that up?
The Baseball America article gives the MLB wish list. That doesn’t look to be on the Saints agenda, however.
By Robert Pannier