NORTH LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The Arkansas Travelers have a new Major League affiliation.
After a 16-year player development relationship with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the team is the new AA affiliate for the Seattle Mariners. The contract is for two seasons, the Travs announced in a joint press release with the Mariners.
“The Travelers are excited to have this opportunity to start a new relationship with the Seattle Mariners," said Travs President Russ Meeks. "This also brings an opportunity to, again, work with Jerry Dipoto and his staff. We have a mutual understanding of our goals and objectives in the development of players at the Double-A level. We believe this is a great opportunity for our loyal Travelers fans.”
“The Mariners look forward to working closely with our new partner, the Arkansas Travelers,” said Mariners Executive Vice President & General Manager Jerry Dipoto. “It is a franchise with great fans, a great staff and a great ballpark, as well as a long and storied history in professional baseball, dating back to 1901. Both organizations are committed to the community, good baseball and an entertaining ballpark experience.”
The Travs decided to end the relationship with the Angels, not the other way around, according to Travs General Manager Paul Allen. The Mariners, led by former Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto, have developed a deep farm system. In 2016, the Mariners' seven minor league affiliates combined for a 451-314 record (.590), the best winning percentage in baseball.
“The Mariners have a commitment to a strong minor league system, and value the best possible environment for our prospects to develop. We will have that environment with the Arkansas Travelers," said Mariners Director of Player Development Andy McKay.
Prior to working with the Angels, the Travs were the long-time affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Seattle's previous AA affiliate was in Jackson, Tenn.