SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants wasted no time in acquiring the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats for the 2015 season.
Tuesday was the first day teams could officially discuss affiliation agreements.
Ending the franchises 17-year relationship with the Fresno Grizzlies, the Giants announced Thursday they will begin a two-year player development contract with the River Cats.
Giants President Larry Baer explained the move made more sense geographically since Fresno’s Chukchansi Park is more than 100 miles farther from AT&T Park than Sacramento’s Raley Field:
“It was a difficult decision to move our affiliate, but ultimately we felt that the proximity of the River Cats to San Francisco was critical to the development of our players. We look forward to working with the River Cats organization to continue to deliver a top baseball experience to our players and the fans.”
The team will continue to be called the River Cats.
River Cats President Jeff Savage expressed excitement in joining the Giants franchise:
“We appreciate the 15 successful years we’ve had with the Oakland Athletics…We’re extremely excited to join the Giants family, and can’t wait for our 2015 home opener on April 9.”
Earlier Thursday, the A’s reached a four-year deal with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. The Sounds had been affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Fresno Grizzlies will become an affiliate of the Houston Astros in 2015.
During the River Cats’ 15-year partnership with the A’s, the Triple-A club garnered 11 division titles, four Pacific Coast League titles and two Triple-A championships.
The River Cats also led PCL attendance eight of the last 10 seasons, but have lost an average of about 2000 fans from 2005 (10,497) to 2014 (8,561).
Sacramento would likely benefit from the association of a successful team in a larger market.
The Giants are expected to make a formal announcement about the acquisition 10 a.m. Friday at Raley Field.