CHICAGO — The Mets are leaving Las Vegas.
The team’s Triple-A affiliate will be moved from Sin City to Syracuse beginning in 2019, a change made possible because the Mets struck a deal to buy the Syracuse Chiefs franchise.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed the deal to The Associated Press Monday night.
The deal was first reported by Syracuse.com, though a sale price was not disclosed.
The purchase of the Chiefs from the Community Baseball Club of Central New York, Inc. ends what was in essence a forced marriage between the Mets and the Las Vegas 51s. Since 2013, the location of the Mets’ top affiliate brought with it a host of logistical issues, including cross-country flights that made it difficult to promote players to the major leagues.
Playing in the hitting-friendly Pacific Coast League also made it difficult for the Mets to evaluate their own players.
Ownership of the Triple-A franchise should also make it easier for facility improvements in the future, another hindrance that arose with the Mets’ arrangement with Las Vegas.
The move also serves as a blow to the Mets’ NL East rivals, the Nationals, who have been affiliated with Syracuse since 2009. The sale means they must find a new Triple-A home after the 2018 season.
From 1969 to 2006, with its affiliation with the then-Norfolk Tides, the Mets enjoyed one of the most stable minor-league partnerships in baseball. But a dispute ended that long run, forcing the Mets into a game of musical chairs that lasted more than a decade.
The Mets’ Triple-A team affiliate was New Orleans in 2007 and 2008 before shifting to Buffalo from 2009 to 2012. But the Blue Jays entered into an agreement with Buffalo beginning in 2013, forcing the Mets to Las Vegas and its outdated facility at Cashman Field.
At the time of that forced arrangement, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson likened the situation to a game of Old Maid. Now, the Nationals may find themselves left to play in Las Vegas.
Once the sale of the Syracuse franchise is official, the Mets will have ownership of three minor-league affiliates, including St. Lucie and Brooklyn. Meanwhile, three of the Mets’ minor-league teams (Binghamton, Brooklyn, Syracuse) will be located within New York State.