A story in the Austin American-Statesman suggested the RedHawks and Express, two teams that just completed a four-game series, might be switching uniforms next season.
The article suggested the Ryan family would like the Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate to return to Round Rock, Texas. In turn, the Rangers’ prospects might return to Oklahoma City.
It turns out the story was nothing but “what-if?” scenarios. Texas has a contract with Round Rock through 2018. All reports are the Rangers plan to keep their Triple-A team in the Austin suburb the next four years.
“You’d have to ask, ‘What’s in it for the Rangers?’” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels was quoted in the story. “I’m sure the Astros would like to get back in there, but why would we leave? That’s the question.
“The Austin area is a fast-growing market, and we’ve worked hard to establish a strong foothold there.”
The Rangers already have a strong fan base in Oklahoma City. They’re the closest Major League team, plus Oklahoma City was the Rangers’ Triple-A team’s home for 28 years (1983-2010).
Daniels said Oklahoma City was a great partner for the Rangers in the past, a good market, but reiterated their desire to keep their Triple-A team in south central Texas.
“We love it in Round Rock,” Daniels said. “We’ve made a lot of gains down there, and you can definitely attribute some of those (gains) to the affiliation with the Express. Of course, it helps the Rangers have been a consistent winner.”
The most likely scenario? When Oklahoma City’s contract with Houston runs out at the end of the 2014 season the RedHawks this September will sign another two-year extension with the Astros for 2015 and 2016.
“We’ve had a good relationship with the Astros, and I’ve had nothing that leads me to believe that we wouldn’t continue to work with the Astros in the future,” said RedHawks president Michael Byrnes. “We’ll sit down at the end of the season and discuss it just like we did two years ago and two years prior to that.”
Texas moved its Triple-A team from Oklahoma City to Round Rock when Nolan Ryan was the Rangers president. His son, Reid, founded the Round Rock franchise. But Nolan now is an advisor for the Astros and Reid a year ago was named president of the team.
Nolan’s other son, Reece, now operates Round Rock, which, he said puts him in an awkward situation since his father and brother are now associated with the Astros. But Daniels said the Rangers are fine with the current arrangement.
With more Major League teams attempting to own their Triple-A affiliate — the St. Louis Cardinals recently bought the Memphis Redbirds franchise — would the Rangers be tempted, if they could, own a Triple-A team in Oklahoma City?
Mandalay Baseball Properties is trying to sell minor league teams it owns, and it might include the RedHawks.
“In that story they talked to Jon Daniels, and Jon Daniels stressed they like their agreement in Round Rock and have a contract through 2018,” Byrnes said. “I believe their intention is to stay there through 2018.”
Byrnes reiterated even if Mandalay Baseball Properties sells the franchise, the RedHawks have a long-term agreement to remain in Oklahoma City.
“We have a great relationship with the city,” Byrnes said. “No matter who our affiliate is – the Major League team that is supplying players – the RedHawks will operate here and play at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.”