Baseball

Nuts owner says Modesto’s baseball future is good

Modesto Nuts majority owner, Michael Savit, in 2005.
Modesto Nuts majority owner, Michael Savit, in 2005. Modesto Bee

Modesto Nuts owner Michael Savit, aware of the major changes ahead in the California League, maintains the city’s professional baseball future is bright.

“The bottom line is that, once everything shakes out in the California League and with our Player Development Contract, the city of Modesto will be in very good shape,” Savit said during a telephone interview Tuesday. “It’s all going to turn out positive for Modesto. I can guarantee you that.”

Savit echoed the words last week of Mike Gorrasi, the executive vice president of HWS Baseball, Savit’s Boston-based company. Gorrasi, who runs the Nuts’ day-to-day operation, said, “I do know that the Modesto Nuts aren’t going anywhere. We are here to stay.”

The issue for Modesto is its future under the banner of the Colorado Rockies. The Nuts’ two-year Player Development Contract with the Rockies expires at the end of the regular season next month.

MLB.com columnist Tracy Ringolsby reported last weekend that the Seattle Mariners will buy controlling interest in Modesto and will move their California League affiliate from Bakersfield to Thurman Field in 2017. Modesto has been locked in with Colorado for the past 12 season after a 30-year relationship with the Oakland Athletics.

12Seasons the Modesto Nuts have been affiliated with the Colorado Rockies

Savit, the Nuts owner since 2005, is prevented by Minor League Baseball from commenting on negotiations. He confirmed that the matter should be settled by mid-September, though he wouldn’t comment on anything related to the Mariners.

“Conjecture is conjecture until the contracts are signed and the deals are made,” Savit said. “My second guarantee is that HWS Baseball will continue to run the team and Mike Gorrasi will remain in his position. He’s done a tremendous job.”

All signs point to the shrinking of the California League from 10 to eight teams, marking the first time the High-A league has dipped below 10 teams in 30 years.

Bakersfield’s plans to build a badly needed new ballpark fizzled in recent years, hence the Mariners’ reported willingness to relocate. Bakersfield is a charter member of the California League, which opened in 1941.

The High Desert Mavericks, a Texas Rangers affiliate, are in jeopardy due to a lease problem over its Heritage Field home. They’re owned by the city of Adelanto, which voted to evict the team last April. The Rangers reportedly have a lease agreement in place with Kinston, N.C., for competition in the Carolina League.

The bottom line is that, once everything shakes out in the California League and with our Player Development Contract, the city of Modesto will be in very good shape.

Michael Savit

The Lancaster JetHawks may jettison their hookup with the Houston Astros, who are considering a move of their Single-A team Fayetteville, N.C. This would create a potential Rockies-to-Lancaster and Mariners-to-Modesto switch.

Savit said the Nuts’ probable missing the Cal League playoffs for the third straight year (they’re 48-73 overall) is not a factor in the team’s future plans.

“It would be nice to win more games, but the purpose of the minors is to develop players. The Rockies have brought us many prospects who became great major league players,” Savit said. “We’re competitive, just not as many wins as we would like. It doesn’t concern us.”

Ron Agostini: 209-578-2302, @ModBeeSports

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