The deal completed what amounted to an affiliate swap after longtime RedHawks parent club, the Texas Rangers, moved their Triple-A farm to Round Rock near Austin.
“We are excited to have our Triple-A affiliation coming to Oklahoma City,” Astros owner Drayton McLane said in a statement. “There's a rich tradition of baseball in Oklahoma City, with strong ties to the Astros, so we expect great things in Oklahoma City.”
The move keeps the RedHawks tied with a team with strong local exposure. Many of the Astros games are televised locally on Fox Sports. The Astros and Oklahoma City were baseball partners over the 1962-1972 seasons when the 89ers played at All Sports Stadium.
After the Milwaukee Brewers announced their intention to stick with Nashville as a Triple-A affiliate, Oklahoma City and Las Vegas were left as the two teams vying for Houston or Toronto.
Several other Triple-A teams haven't officially extended their PDCs but are expected to remain with the same franchise.
“As we explored and really dig deep with both organizations, it became clear Houston was the right fit,” Mandalay Baseball and RedHawks executive Michael Byrnes said. “They had a real strong commitment to wanting to be a partner with us in the community.”
Mandalay's purchase of the RedHawks became official last week.
Representatives from the Astros and Mandalay will hold a reception at the Skirvin Hotel on Wednesday.
Houston's winter caravan will make a stop in Oklahoma City this offseason.
Byrnes said although there was no formal discussion about a possible Astros exhibition game in Oklahoma City during the agreement, that or a similar event remained a possibility.
“Once their season is over, we'll talk about it more,” Byrnes said. “But we did give them some examples of highly successful events we've had in other markets.”
Oklahoma City had been affiliated with the Rangers for 28 years, one of the longest runs of affiliations in Triple-A.
But when Rangers president Nolan Ryan became part owner of the big league team, the partnership was destined to end. Ryan is also the owner of Round Rock minor league franchise.
Houston had been affiliated in some way with Round Rock since 2000; Round Rock has been the Astros’ Triple-A team the last six seasons.
Once the Rangers' affiliation with Round Rock became official, the Astros made no secret of their preference to partner with Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma City is a very attractive market for any team to be associated with,” Byrnes said. “It works out well for them because of the ballpark here, the facilities, the proximity and the base of support here.”
Round Rock finished 57-87 this season, finishing last in the American Conference Southern division. It was the team's fourth consecutive fourth-place finish after winning the division in 2006. The RedHawks won three division titles in the last five years as the Rangers affiliate.
It was announced last week that Marc Bombard would not return as the Astros' Triple-A manager. He spent two seasons with Round Rock.
Astros general manager Ed Wade said it was important to find a Triple-A manager with a strong relationship and similar philosophies as Houston's manager.
Houston's Double-A team, the Corpus Christi Hooks, finished 63-77 overall in the Texas League. The Hooks finished last in the second half after a second-place finish in the first half.