Nationals’ Triple-A team being in Fresno is less than ideal

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There’s an interesting article up over at The Athletic today. In it Brittany Ghiroli explores the challenges of the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A team being in Fresno. A very long — and not very direct — flight away from Nats Park.

It used to be a bit more common to see farm clubs a long way away from the big club but this age of frequent roster-shuffling, specialization and greater ability to diagnose injuries — and thus sideline players more readily — means that the shuttle between Triple-A and the bigs is used more frequently. When that shuttle requires a redeye flight in order to get a player to the park by first pitch of a day game or an early morning wakeup call to get there by an evening tilt, it can mean for some tired players. Or, in some cases, it can mean playing shorthanded for a day since you can’t get a guy to the park on short notice.

So why do the Nats have a Triple-A team in Fresno? Ghiroli notes that it’s the club’s failure to either (a) cultivate good relationships with minor league ownership groups with whom they need to affiliate; or (b) do what a lot of clubs have done and bought their way into the ownership group of a minor league team, thereby solidifying good relationships. As a result, the Nats have had their top farm club shuffle between four different cities — New Orleans, Columbus, Syracuse and Fresno — in fifteen years. Since they don’t own like the Mets now own Syracuse and they don’t have a solid relationship like the Indians do now with Columbus, for example, they have to play musical chairs every couple of years when affiliate agreements are up. Last time the music stopped they ended up in Fresno. Next time it could be someplace else.

Interesting read. Worth your time.

Bogaerts reportedly heading to the Padres for 11 years, $280 million

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster 11-year, $280 million contract, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

San Diego also met with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before the big stars opted for different teams. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.

“From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. “We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts was one of the headliners in a stellar group of free-agent shortstops that also included Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.

Bogaerts, who’s from Aruba, terminated his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston after the season. The four-time All-Star forfeited salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 150 games.

Bogaerts is a .292 hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBIs in 10 big league seasons – all with Boston. He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and 2018.

Bogaerts becomes the latest veteran hitter to depart Boston after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020. Rafael Devers has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can hit the market.

Bogaerts had his best big league season in 2019, batting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBIs. He had 23 homers and 103 RBIs in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBIs.