The Los Angeles Dodgers will be shifting their Triple-A affiliation from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City next season, according to multiple sources.
A group affiliated with the Dodgers is on the brink of purchasing the local pro baseball team. The group is in the final stages of contract negotiations that began several weeks ago with Mandalay, which announced earlier this year it would be selling its five minor league baseball properties.
The ownership group that is purchasing the team and the selling price are unknown. RedHawks president and general manager Michael Byrnes declined to comment on the Dodgers-to-OKC report or the new ownership group that will be purchasing the team.
According to sources, Mandalay will sell the RedHawks for between $22 and $28 million.
One possibility is that Dodgers’ part-owner Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group, will be involved with the Oklahoma City franchise ownership group but possibly not to the extent St. Louis went this past year when the Cardinals officially purchased their Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.
The Dodgers reportedly have been searching for a city more suitable to evaluate their top prospects. Starting last season, the Dodgers have required Isotopes officials to place baseballs in a humidor to try to counteract the effects of the thin, dry air, Albuquerque being 5,300 feet above sea level.
The Dodgers have been affiliated with Albuquerque for a total of 44 years, but only for the past six consecutive years in addition to a previous 38-year run (1963-2000). After being without a team for two years, Albuquerque rejoined the PCL as the Miami Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate for six years (2003-2008) before hooking up with the Dodgers for the past six years.
The Modesto Bee has reported several major league teams might switch their PCL Triple-A affiliates, stating Oakland plans to move from Sacramento to Nashville’s new park and the Giants will then move their affiliate from Fresno to Sacramento.
When those moves take place, the Astros and Brewers would be the two teams looking for Triple-A cities with Albuquerque and Fresno strong candidates with voids to fill. There also have been reports that the Rockies are debating whether to continue their deal with Colorado Springs.
This is the fourth season that the RedHawks have been affiliated with the Astros. Oklahoma City was the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers for 28 seasons, including the first 13 with the RedHawks, before the Rangers moved their Triple-A team to Round Rock, Texas.
Mandalay announced earlier this year they would be selling all five minor league baseball properties this year.
The first sale was for the Double-A Texas League Frisco RoughRiders, who were sold to former Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg for a reported record $30 million.
The record didn’t last long. Mandalay’s second sale was the Dayton Dragons, the Cincinnati Reds’ Midwest League Class A affiliate, that sold for a reported $40 million to Palisades Arcadia Baseball, whose main investor Michael Savit, involved with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Some claim the $30 and $40 million figures might have been slightly embellished, while many sources said those sales prices were extremely accurate.
Mandalay still has two additional baseball teams they plan to sale, including half-interest in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders, a Yankees’ Triple-A team in the International League and the Double. The final sale will be the Double-A Eastern League Erie Seawolves.