The SF Giants extended invitations to four minor-league teams to be full-season affiliates next season.
The long wait for minor-league teams appears to be over. After months of indecision and uncertainty, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America reports that the league has sent invites to 119 of the 120 minor-league teams that they would like to be affiliates going forward. Per the report, the SF Giants invited the Sacramento River Cats (Triple-A), Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A), Eugene Emeralds (High-A), and the San Jose Giants (Low-A). The Emeralds are the only new affiliate.
The biggest news of the day comes at the High-A level. The Giants previous High-A affiliate, the San Jose Giants, were going to move to Low-A along with the California League while the Northwest League, which had been at a now-defunct Low-A, Short-Season level, was being promoted to High-A. However, the Giants previous Northwest League affiliate, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes have been on the affiliate chopping block for some time. It appears that the Volcanoes indeed did not make the cut and the Emeralds will take their place. The Emeralds were previously the Chicago Cubs Low-A, Short-Season affiliate.
Reports had made clear for some time that the Giants previous lowest full-season affiliate, the Augusta Greenjackets would not be returning to the organization. Per the report, they are now Atlanta’s Low-A affiliate. The Richmond Flying Squirrels status had remained up in the air, but Giants fans in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area) got some good news when the Phillies passed on an affiliation with the club. The news confirms that the Giants have maintained their top two affiliates.
The one franchise that has yet to receive an invite, but is expected to at some point, is the former Giants Triple-A affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies. MLB has tried to force them to take a demotion to the Low-A level. However, the team and city of Fresno are fighting the demotion and could be headed to court.
It’s worth noting, in a statement by the Flying Squirrels, Richmond did not outwardly accept the Giants invitation to return as their Double-A affiliate. Instead saying, “We look forward to reviewing the specifics of the invitation and final document.” This could be simply a formality since clubs have to accept their invitations in what Baseball Prospectus’ Craig Goldstein has coined, “the worst Rose Ceremony of all-time.”
Still, the language is noteworthy. Teams and municipalities might have a viable class-action case against the league if they are willing to risk the repercussions. Of course, Major League Baseball has an unfair amount of power in the situation and franchises could rightfully be worried about the league responding by removing them from affiliate ball altogether.
Barring any surprises, the minor-league waiting game should be over for SF Giants fans. It appears the Sacramento River Cats (Triple-A), Richmond Flying Squirrels (Double-A), Eugene Emeralds (High-A), and the San Jose Giants (Low-A) will be the organization’s full-season affiliates in 2021.