The Cincinnati Reds and Pensacola Blue Wahoos have not renewed their player development contract for the 2019 season. We knew that nearly two weeks ago. There’s nothing stopping the two sides from renewing the contract for the next two seasons. But Pensacola’s ownership wants to see what else is out there. They, not the Cincinnati Reds, were the ones that wanted to explore other options.

On Thursday afternoon, Bill Vilona of the Pensacola News Journal published an article detailing some of the things that the Pensacola Blue Wahoos are looking for as they talk to other Major League organizations. According to the article the Reds “were stunned” when they were notified that Pensacola wanted to see what else was out there. There are five teams looking for Double-A affiliates this offseason. The Reds, the Twins, the Padres, the Cubs, and the Athletics. It sounds as though Oakland isn’t really being considered by Pensacola unless they wind up as the only option available. Nor are the Cubs. The Blue Wahoos have met with the other three options to discuss things.

Pensacola has new facilities. It’s in a good league where there aren’t environmental issues that effect the player development. From a developmental standpoint – Pensacola’s got all that you are looking for. They are probably going to have their pick of which organization they want, and not the other way around.

Most of what is spoken of in the Pensacola News Journal article revolves around being marketed better from the big league club. And being more involved in and with events that has the big league club doing things in Pensacola. While the Reds have had multiple of the “Futures Games” where they visit an affiliate and play against a group of their minor leaguers, Pensacola had a tough-luck situation where rain cost them their opportunity. The teams showed up, and they took the field for introductions and the national anthem. But before any baseball was played the game was canceled.

At the time, there was talk of trying to get the game to be played again the following year. That never happened. While this isn’t specifically stated in the “wants” within the article, it seems like it’s something that Pensacola is interested in having happen. They would like to be included in more events from their Major League affiliate during the offseason. Having player appearances and events. The Reds Caravan, for example, travels all over “Reds Country” and has events for fans with local Reds on Radio affiliates. Pensacola isn’t exactly in that territory as they don’t have a Reds on Radio affiliate there. But this kind of stop would seem like something that the Blue Wahoos would be looking for – to be included in something like this. Something that helps them generate buzz. Brings their fans out to an event.

It’s possible that the Reds can work with Pensacola on these kinds of things and the two could come to an agreement moving forward. But if they can’t the options are limited. Chattanooga, where the Reds were for 21 years between 1988-2008 would be the best fit. Tennessee, which is located in Kodak, would be a solid fit as well. They, however, are rumored to be re-signing with the Cubs. It’s not official yet. And the Reds probably have their ear if they want it, as the company that owns the Tennessee Smokies is the same company that is contracted out to run the operations for the Cincinnati Reds owned Greeneville Reds. Amarillo will be playing their first season in 2019. They are in the Texas League. Midland would be the other option in the Texas League. Neither would be an ideal option for Cincinnati.

Assuming that the Reds would be out of Pensacola, one of the two teams in Tennessee would be ideal for a few reasons. First, would be proximity. They are closer to both Cincinnati and Louisville. From a logistical standpoint, that would be quite beneficial by comparison to Amarillo. Toss in that they are also much closer to Daytona, too, and it’s just an added bonus. Tennessee is also considered to be “Reds Country”. The Reds are on television in the area, and you can listen to the games on the radio. From a marketing standpoint, having a team affiliated in the area has to help the big league club’s foothold in the market. Toss in that they also now own the team in Greeneville – a short drive to Kodak, and a not too long drive to Chattanooga, and you could probably do some creative marketing ideas with either situation.

From a minor league coverage standpoint, having the team in Tennessee would be beneficial from the standpoint that it’s an easier commute. With that said, Chattanooga is currently not on MiLBtv. And that stinks. The Tennessee Smokies are a part of the MiLBtv platform. Amarillo is an unknown at this point since they’ve never played before. It’s also not going to be a short drive to make, and means that there’s not a good chance of “double dipping” on a trip to pick up another affiliate along the way.  All of this paragraph, however, is simply worrying about how these moves would come into play for me. And that’s not overly important.

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24 Responses

  1. Billy

    Doug, I don’t understand something… You mention the 4 clubs with no AA commitment being the Reds, A’s, Twins, and Padres. Then you say that Tennessee is rumored to be signing with the Cubs. Is one of those teams listed incorrectly or something? I can’t see how the pieces fit together here.

    • MK

      The Cubs are already the affiliated with the Tennessee Smokies and just have not signed a new contract yet. It is possible Smokies could change but Cubs want to stay.

    • Doug Gray

      Brain fart on my part. But I’ll also lay blame on working from the PNJ article that mentioned the four affiliations and left off the Cubs as an option as a 5th team that could, in theory, be in play for Pensacola. I’ll edit the post now – but there are 5 MLB teams out there without PDCs in Double-A currently – Reds, Cubs, Padres, Athletics, Twins.

      • Billy


        So the options are Pensacola, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Amarillo, and … What is the fifth option?

  2. MK

    It is amazing that the Reds were stunned by this. I had a friend tell me of Pensacola’s
    unhappiness a few months ago.

    • Cindy

      As a Pensacola resident this is the first we heard of this today in our paper we were stunned, have had season ticket since the start. Would love the Cubs or keep the Reds

  3. Charlie Waffles

    If ranked, I think the Kodak, TN option is best, Pensacola 2nd, and Chattanooga 3rd. Northwest Texas and Amarillo would be very depressing. That area just sucks. The location of the 1920’s and 30’s dust bowls. No trees for miles. The summer heat is unbearable. The Reds would be better off not having a AA team for a year or two if Amarillo is their only option.

  4. Champ Summers

    The column sounded like Pensacola and the Twin ownership are in a torrid affair. They certainly are sending teams a message. It was really odd figuring out what they want. They want branding and cross promotion and W-L don’t matter, money doesn’t matter. I guess they just want notoriety.

    No one wants the A’s. They will get the worst of the 5 options. SD seem like a lock for the better of the 2 TX options. TN and FL would seem like odd fits for them. If the Cubs like their home with the Smokies then I see that happening. It’s good for both. They mentioned Min ST home on FL as being a factor. If you live in FL you know that Ft Myers and Pensacola are only close if you have a boat or plane.

    Seems no matter what happens FL or either TN options aren’t bad. Pensacola and the facilities there are really great so I’d hate to lose that option. That said the last 2 times I saw the Wahoo’s play I went to Jax because it’s a much shorter drive from Orlando. I can still do that as long as they stay in the Southern League

    • RedsinWashst

      It does sound like the ownership of the Wahoo’s is into notoriety. They added Bubba Watson pro golfer and Derrick Brooks pro football player (former) into their ownership.

    • Doug Gray

      “Money doesn’t matter” was a weird way to put it. Clearly the money matters. I believe when it was used in the article it was referencing that the MLB teams aren’t writing a check to be an affiliate. The money matters because they want to be marketed better. They want to have events in their ballpark with the MLB affiliate. Those things directly lead to money.

  5. Zach

    I went to a Yahoos game on vacation about 4 years ago and loved the stadium. It’s a great environment. I hope he Reds do whatever is best for their organization.
    That said, I’m probably one of the few hoping for one of the Texas league affliates. I live less than an hour from 3 (Tulsa, Springfield and NW Arkansas) and would love to take my kids to see the Reds’ AA games. We always sit by the visitor’s dugout. In the past 3 years my son has procured balls signed by Alex Bergman, Paul DeJong and others.

    • Doug Gray

      Pensacola’s stadium is great. The people that work at the stadium are great. Even if they don’t wind up a future Reds affiliate I’m still going to tell people that they need to be making a visit if they are looking for a great baseball stadium and environment to check out.

  6. Shawn

    I’ hope it’s one of the Tennessee teams. Preferably the Smokies. Smokies are about 4.5 hours from me while the Lookouts are over 6. It’s a long drive but doable.

  7. Doc

    Midland is right on my way driving to visit the grandkids in Tucson. That said, I hope they don’t do Midland or Amarillo. For a retiree, a nice leisurely 3-4 week trip from my Conroe TX home can take in Pensacola, Daytona, my sister in St Augustine, Tennessee sites, on to Dayton and Louisville, then home. Why would the Reds go and mess that up? I leave GABP to the locals!

  8. Simon Cowell

    Im from Pensacola. With that said, I hope the Reds sign with,Chatanooga. TN seems li,e a better fit for the entire organizatiom. Plus the wahoos ownership is grandstanding hope they get stuck with the Padres…. nobodys first choice, not even,San Diego.

    • Redsvol

      Whole-heartedly agree. The Wahoos ownership group seems to want to be the focus instead of the focus for a major league team being to develop their players. I don’t disagree that a minor league club should benefit from some closer involvement but it certainly doesn’t do anything for player development. I would argue that a major league club should be using its minor league teams to also turn locals into fans of the major league team. This will never happen in pensacola. They are inundated with atlanta braves coverage. Tennessee is a short drive to Cincinnati. This is where they should plant the flag of a farm team if they have a good choice – and both are good stadiums in vibrant areas.

  9. Rich


    I have yet to make a trip to Pensacola to catch a game, but from what I have read about the facility it is pretty nice. However, from a logistical perspective, I think that relocating their AA affiliate to Tennessee makes a lot of sense. I use to live in Chattanooga when I work at UTC and I enjoyed seeing games there. Furthermore, Chattanooga as a town has really come a long way in revitalizing itself and if they went back to Chattanooga, I would be inclined to make a trip from Virginia to check out a weekend series.

    • Mike V

      I agree .. The Lookouts seem to be the best fit overall . I was sorry to see the Reds leave there in the first place .. I would come down for Louisville to catch the AA team . The Reds would than have their A, AA and Triple AAA teams all within striking distance .. Can they move the high A team north too .. Somewhere in Virginia perhaps ?

      • Rich

        They were in Lynchburg, VA for a short time. I saw Mesoraco play there.

    • Cindy

      Pensacola has an amazing stadium right on the water, hope the Reds can work it out but Cubs would be awesome

  10. Colorado Red

    Colorado Springs is losing there AAA this year.
    Great stadium.
    Only problem is they are at 6500′
    (I know they do not want this, but I would love it)

  11. wes

    Aren’t these deals between cities and teams usually short term? Most the one’s I’ve seen since following Doug’s work seem very short term like 2-4 years. If I’m Pensacola- I want a winner so I’d sign with Reds for like 2 seasons and then bail on em. Reds are going to be stacked with all these players working up to AA over past 3/4 drafts and Hunter Greene will come though and bring a crowd. WAY better crop of talent then Cubs and Twins talent is a little further than AA. Doubt WC teams would be very interested in an EC team.

    Also, if Reds are shocked Pensacola is looking elsewhere then the front office has no accountability whatsoever. Terrible statement to release- everyone else understands why Pensacola would leave- how could they possibly not be?!?

    • Cindy

      I was shocked reading the sports paper this morning being a season ticket holder since day one