The Washington Times - March 16, 2012, 03:40PM

The Washington Nationals announced Friday that they’ve extended their contracts with four of their minor league affiliates, agreeing to stay with Triple-A Syracuse, Double-A Harrisburg, Single-A Potomac and short-season A Auburn through the 2014 season.

Triple-A Syracuse has been the Nationals top affiliate since 2009 and Double-A Harrisburg has been with the organization since it was the Montreal Expos in 1991. 


They did not, however, announce an extension with Single-A Hagerstown. On Tuesday, the Winchester, VA, City Council unanimously voted down a proposal to transfer 7.9 acres of park land to an economic development agency that would be used for a proposed stadium in the hopes of luring the Hagerstown Suns to town, according to the Herald-Mail. 

The council cited concerns about economic risks and alcohol, the Herald-Mail reported, and one council member had said previously that if they did not transfer the land it would end the plan to possibly relocate the Suns to Winchester.

The Nationals sent a letter to the Hagerstown Suns this past offseason detailing improvements they’d like to be made to both the field and the facilities if they were to re-up with them. Their current deal expires following the 2012 season. The Nationals and Hagerstown owner Bruce Quinn have a good working relationship and the team and the town are working on extending the lease for Municipal Stadium as they work toward perhaps building a new park in Hagerstown, instead. 

“We are still very optimistic that the Suns will either be playing in a new Winchester stadium for the 2013 season or sign a lease extension with the city of Hagerstown, thus giving the city, county and state time to firm up the proposed downtown stadium project for the 2015 season,” Quinn said in a statement after the proposal for use of park land in Winchester was shot down.

“In both scenarios, the Suns have agreed to a base rent and/or revenue share split that will pay down the largest portion of the debt service needed to fund the building of a new stadium.”

For now, though, the Nationals have made no guarantees that they will remain with Hagerstown past this season.

After battling with Single-A Potomac last year over what the Nationals felt were dangerous field conditions and a park that simply could not handle rain, Pfitzner Stadium underwent a field renovation this offseason. A new drainage and irrigation system was installed and the “entire diamond was laser graded to MLB standards,” according to a release from the Potomac Nationals.

The field was then sodded and overseeded and a new pitchers mound and home plate area were constructed, leading, hopefully, to a more conducive playing surface for the Nationals’ prospects. The team also hired a full-time groundskeeper. 

– The Nationals were happy to extend the agreements with the affiliates that they did come to terms with, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement.

“We could not be more pleased to make this commitment,” Rizzo said. “To make this announcement so early in the season speaks to how much we value our relationships and environments cultivated by the good people in Syracuse, Harrisburg, Potomac and Auburn. We take our affiliate relations very seriously in Washington. They are a vital part of our family and we know that, with time, these bonds will only strengthen.”