Roger Munter of There R Giants spoke with Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, an SF Giants minor-league affiliate, CEO Mickey Walker about the future of the franchise. Things are still up in the air.
In a report by Roger Munter of There R Giants (subscription required, but recommended), Salem-Keizer Volcanoes CEO Mickey Walker discussed the uncertainty facing the longtime SF Giants minor-league affiliate. With a 2021 minor-league baseball season potentially less than five months away from starting, the ambiguity remains a frustration for fans, team employees, and communities with minor-league franchises.
Salem-Keizer has been a Giants affiliate since 1997. However, as Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred enacts disgraced former Houston Astros president Jeff Luhnow’s plan to condense the minor leagues, they have fallen into baseball purgatory.
A member of the Northwest League, the Volcanoes have been serving as the Giants short-season Low-A affiliate. However, in MLB’s plan, the short-season Low-A level will be cut. Some of those teams though, will be moved to full-season ball and become High-A affiliates. The others will be relegated to College Summer Wood Bat and Independent Leagues.
The SF Giants will need another High-A affiliate because their current one, the San Jose Giants, is likely slated to shift to full-season Class-A to replace the Augusta Greenjackets who will no longer have an affiliation with San Francisco. The question is whether the Volcanoes will stay in the Northwest League as it’s promoted, or if the Giants will be partnering with another franchise.
Walker was very candid with Munter about how teams have been shut out of the negotiation process, “We really still don’t get a lot of information. We do meet with the negotiating committee as a league and they update us on negotiations.”
Salem-Keizer was on MLB’s original list of 42 minor-league teams they wanted to cut from affiliate ball. However, in the more than 13 months since then, some franchises originally on the list have been guaranteed affiliations in 2021. Walker also pointed out that the league has emphasized travel times and conditions for players, two areas where Salem-Keizer already exceeds MLB’s standards.
For more on the situation, checkout Munter’s full piece.
Teams like the SF Giants are inconvenienced by the delay in MLB’s final decision. The implications for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes is much more existential. Revenue disparities between being a High-A affiliate and a Summer Wood Bat League team are massive. Many people’s livelihoods hang in the balance. Hopefully, the league will stop prolonging the process and do right by all these communities across the country.