The RedHawks begin a new season tonight at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, and it could mark the beginning of the end for Oklahoma City’s affiliation with the Texas Rangers.
The RedHawks and Rangers’ player development deal expires at the end of this season. Circumstances could change, but for now after 28 years in Oklahoma City signs point to the Rangers moving its Triple-A team elsewhere for the 2011 season.
Rangers president Nolan Ryan owns the Round Rock Express and there has been speculation Texas would like to have all of its farm teams in Texas. Ryan is also part of a group in the process of purchasing the Rangers.
For now, the RedHawks, Rangers or Astros are mostly silent on the potential affiliation change. Teams are subject to fines for discussing development deals publicly because of Major League Baseball’s rules against tampering.
At the end of this season, clubs will have 30 days to either renew their current deals, or look to other sites for their teams. Oklahoma City’s regular season ends Sept. 6.
During a visit last year, Ryan praised the relationship between Texas and Oklahoma City, but offered no guarantee it would continue beyond the current deal. Rangers director of minor league development director Jake Krug echoed Ryan’s comments during a visit in January.
The RedHawks hope the relationship with Texas endures.
"We have had continuing discussions with Texas’ front office, including (general manager) Jon Daniels last week,” RedHawks executive director John Allgood said. "Our hope is to extend the agreement beyond this year.”
While Houston is most often mentioned to relocate their Triple-A team to Oklahoma City, there are other teams with player development deals that expire after this season.
Including Oklahoma City and Round Rock, 13 Pacific Coast League clubs have player development deals that will expire in 2010 including Albuquerque (Dodgers), Colorado Springs (Rockies), Fresno (Giants), Las Vegas (Blue Jays), Nashville (Brewers), New Orleans (Marlins), Kansas City (Royals), Portland (Padres), Sacramento (A’s), Tacoma (Mariners) and Reno (Diamondbacks).