Fresno Grizzlies

The minor league affiliate shuffle sends the Nats’ Triple-A team to . . . Fresno?

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Minor league-major league affiliations are a tricky business.

With few exceptions, mostly at the lower levels, major league teams do not own the minor league affiliates. They have agreements with them, which last a minimum of two years. Sometimes the relationship between the big club and the ownership group of the farm club is great and they extend the affiliations for years on end. Sometimes these relationships are short-lived and are entered into simply because there are few other options as teams scramble to match up with affiliates.

The Washington Nationals’ deal with their Triple-A club for the next two years falls into that latter category:

There’s no reason why a big league club can’t have a Triple-A affiliate that is literally across a continent from the home ballpark, but there’s not a lot to recommend that situation either. If a big league guy wakes up with a bad back one Sunday morning, you can’t exactly rush someone to the ballpark from the minors before a 1PM first pitch. If the GM or his aides want to go see someone play down on the farm, they can’t really do it impulsively. There are likewise few marketing synergies to be had between a big league club in D.C. and a Triple-A club in Fresno, California.

But such is life when the Astros leave Fresno to affiliate with Round Rock, which is owned by Nolan Ryan. That relationship ended, primarily, because Ryan’s relationship ended with the Rangers a few years back, so the Rangers are now moving on to Nashville. Nashville had the A’s, but the A’s are moving on to Las Vegas. Las Vegas had the Mets but the Mets are now Syracuse which . . . used to be the Nats’ affiliation. And round and round it goes.

Oh, and the Brewers are leaving Colorado Springs to go to San Antonio, which was in the Texas League and is now moving up. Milwaukee was in Colorado Springs, which will no longer be a Triple-A team.

It’s a weird process — there’s a strong musical chairs vibe to all of this, and the big league clubs actually have less power in it than they are accustomed to having in their business relationships — but such is life when you outsource the overhead for your development pipeline.

Report: Martinez, Nationals agree to contract extension

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WASHINGTON — Manager Dave Martinez and the Washington Nationals have agreed to work out a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the club beyond next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

Martinez led the Nationals to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 2019, his second season as the team’s skipper.

When he initially was hired, Martinez signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2021 that had not yet been picked up by the Nationals.

After a title defense slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Washington was 23-34 and last in the NL East before facing the New York Mets on Friday night.

It’s the second game of a season-ending four-game series at Nationals Park.

Martinez was sporting his World Series ring on his right hand when he spoke to reporters via a video chat before word emerged Friday afternoon of a change to his contract.

“The coaching staff and myself decided to wear it for the last week of the season, so we’ve been wearing it this whole week. It’s kind of cool,” Martinez said about his ring. “Come Sunday, it goes off and goes back in its little shiny box. But it’s kind of nice to look down and look at it.”

Asked earlier in the week whether he would like his up-in-the-air contract status resolved before the season ends, Martinez said his agent and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had been discussing the matter.

“I love it here. I don’t see myself going anywhere else,” Martinez said then. “I appreciate the family. I appreciate this organization. We’ve built a special relationship here, so I hope I get a chance to stay for many, many years.”

Then he paused for five seconds before adding: “The sooner, the better, though.”