Nats sign two-year deal with Syracuse

Proximity to DC offered as one reason for new affiliation

(Syracuse Chiefs)

By Bill Ladson / | September 20, 2008 4:10 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals announced on Saturday they have signed a two-year player development contract with the Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple-A International League.

Both parties will formally announce their new partnership at a 1 p.m. ET press conference on Monday at Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, N.Y. Nationals president Stan Kasten and general manager Jim Bowden will participate in the event.

According to Bowden, the field at Alliance Bank Stadium is in great shape, and the facilities inside the stadium are an upgrade compared to Columbus, Ohio, and New Orleans, their previous Triple-A affiliates.

Another reason the Nationals are happy to be in Syracuse is that the city is closer -- both to Washington and to many other Minor League cities -- than Columbus, the Nats' most recent Triple-A team. Bowden also said that Syracuse has affordable housing for their Minor League players.

"We are very pleased that Syracuse and the Nationals have come to an agreement with the affiliation, because it's important for our club to have our players play on a first-class surface, which we have there," Bowden said. "[The stadium has] first-class batting cages and clubhouse and a community that supports baseball."

The Chiefs entered the International League in 1936 and have been a continuous member of the IL since 1961. The Chiefs compete in the IL's six-team North Division with Buffalo, Rochester, Lehigh Valley, Pawtucket and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Four of the Chiefs' five division rivals are located within a 200-mile radius of Syracuse.

The Chiefs recently ended a 31-year working relationship with the Blue Jays. The partnership between the Chiefs and Washington is not unprecedented: In 1962, the Chiefs hosted players from both the Senators and Mets.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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