The Yankees’ decision to reorganize their minor league system was met with anger from another former affiliate on Monday.
After Trenton Thunder owner Joseph Plumeri said the Yankees “betrayed” the organization by ending their relationship with the Double-A franchise over the weekend, Will Smith, owner of the Staten Island Yankees, said the Yankees’ severing ties with the team that had been a Single-A affiliate was “unacceptable” in a statement released Monday.
“After careful consideration of locations in New York City, our ballpark was approved by the New York Yankees and built in St. George, Staten Island by the City of New York,” Smith said in a statement. “It was planned and agreed-to in 1999 for the express purpose of hosting New York Yankees professional Minor League Baseball. We are shocked at the developments from this past weekend, and we believe what has happened to our organization is unacceptable.”
The Yankees will instead use Somerset as their Double-A team and will switch it’s High Single-A affiliate from Tampa to Hudson Valley, with Tampa going to Low-A. Staten Island will be left searching for a new team.
The relocations are part of a restructuring of minor league baseball throughout the sport that will leave fewer teams with major league affiliations. Included in the changes is the elimination of the short-season New York-Penn League, which Staten Island was a part of.
“The Staten Island Yankees made every effort to accommodate MLB and New York Yankees requirements, including securing a commitment from New York City for ballpark upgrades,’’ Smith said in the statement. “However, MLB and the Yankees [chose] not to engage in any discussions with us. We were unaware of the final decision and learned about it by reading the statement on Yankees social media.”
A source said both Trenton and Staten Island were given advance notice before the announcements were made public.
On Saturday, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement the restructuring gives the organization “greater continuity to streamline and improve the development of our minor league system. The relationships we have formed with all of our teams will allow for a more consistent application of training with similarly aligned facilities in terms of structure, quality and ease of travel. We are confident that these changes will greatly benefit our players and Yankees fans for many years to come.”
The Staten Island franchise will now look for a new affiliation.
“2020 continues to be a difficult year for our community,” Smith wrote. “The Staten Island Yankees and its employees have felt the effects. While our season at Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George was cancelled due to the pandemic, we looked ahead to a brighter future. The Staten Island Yankees will evaluate all of its alternatives and make choices based on what is best for the community.”