By KEVIN OKLOBZIJA
The Rochester Red Wings, assuming minor league baseball returns in 2021, will have a new parent team for just the fourth time in their 91 years of affiliated play.
The Minnesota Twins informed Naomi Silver, president and CEO of Rochester Community Baseball, that, barring a drastic change of plans, they will be moving their Triple-A operations to St. Paul, Minn., starting with the upcoming season.
“If not for the opportunity to go to St. Paul, they would not have looked to make the change,” Silver said this evening.
Twins president Dave St. Peter informed Silver of the club’s decision earlier today. The move has been rumored ever since Major League Baseball set out to reorganize minor league baseball, placing a premium on geographical fits.
The St. Paul Saints apparently will become the Twins new Triple-A affiliate, based on St. Peter’s conversation with Silver.
“The opportunity has presented itself to have an affiliate in their Twin City of St. Paul, and it’s quite an advantage to be that close, from cost savings to having their players right down the road,” Silver said.
Who becomes the next parent team in Rochester isn’t known, but Silver said she expects to learn who’s coming before the month ends, perhaps in a little as two weeks.
“Nobody wants the uncertainty,” Silver said. “We need these months ahead of us to learn about each other.”
The commissioner’s office may have a significant say in the upcoming affiliation agreements, since it is MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred who had set into motion the consolidation from 160 to 120 minor league teams.
Silver said she’s not sure what major league teams will be involved in the Triple-A affiliate game of musical chairs.
“We can guess who might be available, but we really don’t know,” she said.
Change is rare for the Red Wings. Since 1928, they have only three parent teams: the St. Louis Cardinals through 1960, the Baltimore Orioles from 1961 through 2002, and the Twins starting in 2003.
“Dave said everything that I would want to hear in that they’ve appreciated our relationship,” Silver said. “The Twins were a great affiliate; we’ve left them on very nice terms.
“It’s been a very respectful relationship, even warm, so from that perspective I feel bad. It will take time to develop that relationship with the next organization.”
The Red Wings never won a Governors’ Cup under the Twins; in fact, their last International League championship came in 1997.
But they did have 10 winning seasons in the 17 years the roster was stocked by Minnesota and also were .500 twice. They posted back-to-back 80-wins seasons in 2016 and 2017, the first time a Red Wings team had accomplished that feat since the Joe Altobelli-managed teams did it three straight summers (1974-’76).
The Twins also sent a solid crop of prospects through Rochester, including position players Justin Morneau, Garrett Jones, Jason Bartlett, Brian Dozier, Jason Kubel, Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver, and pitchers Jose Berrios, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins and Liam Hendriks.