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Athletics Appear Ready to Bring Vancouver Into the Fold Even as Beloit Could Be Gone

There has been no finalization of a path forward for minor league baseball in 2021 and beyond, but the Oakland Athletics are making changes even so, adding Vancouver as a Class-A club while preparing to say farewell to Class-A Beloit.
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There is no clear path forward for the minor leagues in 2021, and while that path may come into focus in the coming months, the Oakland A’s aren’t waiting.

The team is ready to move its Class-A team from Beloit, Wisc. To Vancouver B.C., and eventuality first raised by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Canadians, who had been affiliated with Toronto Blue Jays since 2011, have not confirmed the report, and neither have the A’s, but Rob Fai, the team’s longtime play-by-play radio announcer has confirmed that the switch is underway.

Major League Baseball is looking to cut as many as 40 minor league teams in an effort to cut costs, and both Vancouver and Beloit were on the list of possible victims. Most of the teams cut are expected to come from Class-A Short-Season Leagues like the Northwest League that Vancouver long has been a part of.

The Midwest League, which Beloit has called home, is a lower Class-A team, is also under threat.

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While the Northwest League is likely to implode, the Canadians are surviving in large part because they have regularly drawn well at their home, Nat Bailey Stadium. In 2019, the last season in which competition was held, the Canadians averaged 6,210 fans per game, which not only was the best in the league but which also was better than seven of the 16 teams in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.

The A’s have been affiliated with Vancouver in the past, in 1978 as a Triple-A team and from 2000-10 as a short-season team from which the A’s would eventually bring Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Dallas Braden and Dan Straily to the big leagues in Oakland.

By moving to a yet-to-be-determined Class-A League, the 2021 Canadians are expected to play a full season (April-September) for the first time since 1999.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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