M's sign with Clinton; Re-up with High Desert

The M's announced today that they have signed with the Clinton (Ia.) LumberKings of the Midwest League for the next two seasons. And despite some reports to the contrary, the M's will remain in High Desert for 2009 and follow the team wherever it moves the following season. Read on for the details.

The Mariners announced today that they are remaining in the Midwest League and have signed an affiliate agreement with the Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings. The LumberKings had previously been affiliated with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers announced they are heading to Hickory, NC while the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (the Mariners' previous affiliate) will become associated with the Milwaukee Brewers.

In a news release, LumberKings GM Ted Tornow said "the Mariners have been in the Midwest League for 16 years and they wanted to stay in the league and they wanted to come to Clinton, which was very flattering. They were very impressed with our facility for their players and staff - and that meant a great deal to our organization."

This is the second time that a Seattle organization has teamed up with Clinton. Clinton was the Midwest League affiliate of the Seattle Pilots in their only season back in 1969. While the Pilots moved on to become the Milwaukee Brewers, the Clinton franchise kept the "Pilots" moniker until 1976. The LumberKings play at Alliant Energy Field, a ballpark originally name Riverview Stadium when it was built in 1937. That first season, Clinton was the Class D affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The stadium will play host to the 2009 Midwest League All-Star game on June 24th.

The Mariners also announced the extension of their player development contract with the High Desert Mavericks of the California League through 2010. That will likely include only one season in the desert, though, as the Mavs franchise is reportedly set to move cross-country to the Carolina League after the 2009 season. The M's had the option of moving within the Cal League to Lancaster, but chose to stay on for a third season with the Mavs. The Mavs have had the worst record in the California League each of the two seasons they've been affiliated with the Mariners.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will formally announce their agreement with the Brewers in a news conference tomorrow. The Rattlers and Mariners had been partnered for 16 seasons, but declining performance of the team in recent years made the Rattlers interested in looking for a new affiliate. With the nearby Brewers becoming available, the decision was a no-brainer for the Rattlers.

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