I believe the Fisher Cats and Blue Jays will re-up for another two years on their player development contract, keeping Toronto's Double-A team in New Hampshire through at least 2014.
That doesn't jive with the game plan in Ottawa, where city leaders are attempting to land an Eastern League franchise, preferably the Jays' affiliate, as early as 2013. One problem: there is no EL team owner willing to move to Ottawa. League president Joe McEachern has no franchise application on his desk, no lease agreement, and absolutely no reason to believe the Blue Jays are moving their Double-A team to Ottawa.
The Fisher Cats will remain in New Hampshire whether they are aligned with the Blue Jays, Twins, Rays or another team. Many fans around here are hoping the Fisher Cats eventually become an affiliate of the Red Sox, who are signed to play in Portland, Maine, through 2014. Ottawa is a long way from landing a team but the city is sure creating a buzz, as reported in my baseball column in today's New Hampshire Sunday News.
“The people of Ottawa are trying to position themselves for consideration to have an Eastern League franchise,” McEachern said. “There’s still an awful lot of work to be done for them to host a team, not the least of which is finding an owner of (an affiliated) team to move there.”
The Fisher Cats and Blue Jays have agreed to a player development contract through 2012. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say they'll extend the PDC for another two years with an announcement this spring or summer. Fisher Cats team president Rick Brenner directed any questions about affiliations to the league office.
“The Blue Jays have a great relationship with New Hampshire. The only way the Blue Jays would ever leave New Hampshire – and nobody, absolutely nobody has talked with Toronto about this happening – would be if another team agreed to come (to New Hampshire). It would have to be a win-win situation for everyone," McEachern said.
Charlie Wilson, Toronto's director of minor league operations, has told me the Blue Jays want to stay in Manchester as long as possible, saying the club's relationship with NH is "amazing."