After nearly two decades, the Minnesota Twins have cut ties with their top affiliate.
The Twins informed the Triple-A Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings on Tuesday that they would no longer be sending their highest-level minor leaguers to upstate New York as they have been doing since 2003.
That could open the door for a Minneapolis-St. Paul connection. Because of COVID-19, the Twins sent a group of players to train at CHS Field in St. Paul this season rather than Rochester, utilizing the St. Paul Saints’ facility as their alternate site. While the Saints and Twins have had talks about the independent league team potentially becoming an affiliate, there is no deal in place at the moment.
The Professional Baseball Agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball expired at the end of the season, and MLB has taken the reins. There has been a push from MLB for better geographic alignment among affiliates, making the decision to part ways less surprising for Red Wings president and CEO Naomi Silver, who received the news from Twins president Dave St. Peter.
“We’ve had so many great players come through and great people to work with in the front office. It’s just been a really warm relationship. They’ve been good to us. I like to think that we’ve been good to them,” Silver said. “I will certainly miss the relationship with the Twins but change is inevitable and baseball is in a state of flux right now between the major leagues and the minor leagues, so nothing is surprising right now.”
Talk of the Twins and Saints linking up has been swirling for some time now.
Both the Saints and the independent Sugar Land Skeeters were included in an April report from Baseball America that suggested that more than 40 minor-league teams would be contracted and that those two teams would be added as MLB seeks solutions for teams that make more sense geographically.
At the time, Saints general manager and executive vice president Derek Sharrer said the team was surprised by its inclusion in that report because there had not been any conversations leading up to it.
Earlier this summer, Saints co-owner Mike Veeck said he was not opposed to being an affiliate “with the right club.” However, a big hurdle in that potentially happening is a hefty asking price in the millions that the Saints would be required to pay.
Should it happen, it would likely be the ideal scenario for the Twins, who had only good things to say about the Saints this summer as they shared the facility in Lowertown.
“It’s a really good setup for us for a lot of different reasons,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of CHS Field and St. Paul in July. “… The Saints over there, the organization, the ballpark itself, it’s a very professional operation. They have taken care of us, they have been very open-minded to things we have asked them for.”
While the Twins severing ties with the Red Wings does not necessarily mean they will affiliate with the Saints, it is a first step. As the offseason rolls on, it’s possible there will be more movement for the Twins at some of the other levels of the minors, as well.