As promised, fans of the Mobile BayBears didn’t have to wait long to learn the identity of the team’s new major league affiliate following Monday’s announcement that the Arizona Diamondbacks were leaving town.
Just 24 hours after the Diamondbacks announced they were ending their decade-long relationship with the team, team officials announced a two-year player development contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
“The Los Angeles Angels are very excited to begin a partnership with the Mobile BayBears,” Angels General Manager Billy Eppler said. “This will be a great home for our Double-A players and staff.”
Over the past 10 seasons, more than 70 players from the Angels’ previous Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers, have made it to the Major Leagues, including five-time all-star and 2014 American League MVP Mike Trout.
“We are thrilled to be entering into this new partnership with the Los Angeles Angels,” BayBears General Manager Chris Morgan said. “Billy Eppler and the Angels front office is dedicated to developing quality players at the minor league level and everyone associated with the BayBears organization will work tirelessly to provide a positive environment for this development.”
For fans, the move means they’ll see an entirely new crop of players next year. Under baseball’s farm system, the players on minor league rosters are actually signed to the team’s major league affiliate rather than the minor league team. It also means Mobile fans could see Angels superstars like Trout, Albert Pujols, or Matt Shoemaker play in exhibition games or rehabilitation stints.
The Angels are Mobile’s third major league affiliate since the team’s inception in 1997. The Diamondbacks were the BayBears’ major league affiliate from 2007 through this season, and before that, it had been the San Diego Padres from 1997 through 2006. The BayBears won back-to-back Southern League titles in 2011 and 2012 under the Diamondbacks affiliation.
The BayBears’ first home game as an Angels affiliate will be on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at Mobile’s Hank Aaron Stadium against the Jackson Generals.