BUFFALO, N.Y.-When the Buffalo Bisons take the field on Opening Day, Thursday, April 4, 2013 the lineup will look completely different from the end of the 2012 season. That will be because the Bisons are the new Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The teams officially announced a two-year player development contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons on Tuesday with the press conference taking place on Friday. This will result in the Bisons being much closer to their parent club than when they were with the New York Mets. The teams' respective stadiums will be within 100 miles of each other meaning easier access for both the Major League and Triple-A supporters.
"We want to become part of this community, make sure this marriage is a great marriage, and I'm sure that it will be," said Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston. "We want to be here for years. This is the start of not only a two-year deal. Hopefully it's the start of a 42-year deal."
The move should also benefit the Bisons on the field as the Blue Jays have one of the highest ranked minor league systems in baseball. Before the 2012 season Toronto's minor league system was ranked 3rd-best by ESPN.com and 5th-best by Baseball America. "Aligning with the Blue Jays not only gives the Bisons a great regional partner, but also aligns us with one of the top minor league systems in all of baseball," said Bob Rich Jr., President/Owner of the Bisons. "Toronto has a well-documented commitment to developing exciting young talent throughout their farm system." "This relationship is a natural fit, both geographically and philosophically," said Toronto Blue Jays President and C.E.O. Paul Beeston. "The Bisons are committed to winning and the Rich family to providing an environment consistent with the values we are establishing with the Blue Jays. Simply put, we are fortunate they have agreed to align with our program and we thank them for the confidence they have shown in us."
The Bisons have struggled the past four seasons under the New York Mets, going a combined 260-313. This has strayed away from their previous success, as they have made the playoffs 18 of their 25 seasons at Coca Cola Field.
This will be the fifth major league parent club for the Bisons since 1985 when Rich brought the team here. The Bisons played under the Chicago White Sox for their first two years before being affiliated with the Cleveland Indians in the 1987 season. Once Pilot Filed opened the Bisons partnered with the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining with the Indians in 1995. The teams partnered for 14 years before the most recent partnership between the Bisons and New York Mets which lasted from 2009-2012.