NEW YORK – If the COVID-19 pandemic dissipates enough for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to take the field in 2021, they will now have at least one new opponent on their schedule.
On Sunday, the New York Post, NJ.com, Ballpark Digest, and others reported that the New York Yankees issued a statement that it will be severing its relationship with the Trenton Thunder, its current Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League.
The Thunder have been affiliated with the Yankees since 2003, with a previous affiliation with the Boston Red Sox upon the franchise’s arrival in Trenton in 1994.
In a statement, Thunder Owner Joseph Plumeri called the Yankees “despicable” for their decision, with the Yankees’ player development contact with the Trenton not set to expire until the end of 2022.
Taking the place of Trenton will be the Somerset Patriots, a franchise formerly affiliated with the Independent Atlantic League. The Patriots are located in Somerset, NJ, a town approximately 45 miles north of Trenton and approximately 55 miles southwest of New York City.
The transition from Trenton to Somerset was part of a larger shakeup in the Yankees’ minor league system on Sunday, impacting every Yankees’ affiliate except for the Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders. New York’s new Advanced-A affiliate will be the Hudson Valley Renegades. Located in Fishkill, New York, the Renegades had been the Tampa Bay Rays’ Short-Season A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. They replace the Tampa Yankees, who will now be the Yankees’ Class-A affiliate with the transition of the Florida State League from an Advanced-A to a Class-A league.
It remains unclear what league the Renegades will play in. The Yankees also cut ties with its former Class-A affiliate, the Charleston River Dogs; its Short Season-A affiliate, the State Island Yankees; and its Rookie League affiliate, the Pulaski Yankees.
Sunday’s news comes as the latest update in what has been a difficult period for Minor League Baseball. Contraction rumors were in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic, with 40 teams now expected to lose their Major League affiliation, including the Eastern League’s Binghamton Rumble Ponies (New York Mets) and Erie Seawolves (Detroit Tigers).
During the Fisher Cats’ four playoff appearances since coming to Manchester, they faced Trenton twice, being swept by the Thunder in 2011 and sweeping them in 2018.