Nationals Triple-A team to play in Fresno in 2019

WASHINGTON — The Washington Nationals have signed a two-year player development contract with the Fresno Grizzlies for the 2019-2020 seasons, the team announced Tuesday.

The Nats had formerly been affiliated with the Syracuse Chiefs, but after the New York Mets bought that franchise a year ago, it was clear Washington would need a new Triple-A team when their contract expired this month.

Though many had speculated that the Nationals would angle for the opening in Nashville, vacated by the Oakland Athletics moving their operation to Las Vegas (where the Mets had formerly been), the Texas Rangers instead moved into the Music City. The Rangers had been displaced by the Houston Astros, who moved from Fresno. That affiliation dance left the Nats on the West Coast, in a less-than-ideal travel situation for shuttling players between levels of the farm system.

Most of the player development contract deals around the league expire in 2020, which will be the earliest Washington can revisit their Triple-A situation.

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