That didn’t take long.
The Mariners reached a two-year agreement Tuesday with Double-A Arkansas in the Texas League just one day after ending a 10-year relationship with Double-A Jackson in the Southern League.
The Arkansas Travelers are based in North Little Rock and spent the last 16 years as a Los Angeles Angels’ affiliate. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto served as the Angels’ GM from 2011-15.
"It is a franchise with great fans, a great staff and a great ballpark," Dipoto said, "as well as a long and storied history in professional baseball, dating back to 1901.
"Both organizations are committed to the community, good baseball and an entertaining ballpark experience."
The Mariners also confirmed a four-year deal with the Hi-A Modesto Nuts in the California League. That amounted to a formality. The Mariners previously bought a controlling interest in the club as a replacement for Bakersfield, which folded.
"Our desire to remain in the California League," said Andy McKay, the Mariners’ director of player development, "and the great opportunity to be affiliated with the Nuts…led us to this partnership."
Modesto spent the last 12 years as a Colorado affiliate and began operations in 1946. Day-to-day operations for the franchise will continue under the supervision of HWS Baseball, which had owned an operated the club since 2005.
"The commitment (the Mariners) are making to the franchise says a great deal about Modesto and its baseball future," said Michael Savit, the managing partner for HWS Baseball. "We couldn't be happier about partnering with the Mariners."
McKay became familiar with the Modesto franchise while spending his three previous seasons in the Colorado organization as the peak performance coordinator for its minor-league system.
The agreements with Arkansas and Modesto complete the Mariners’ 2017 affiliation lineup, which also consists of Triple-A Tacoma, Lo-A Clinton, Short-A Everett plus clubs in the Arizona Rookie League and Dominican Summer League.
All affiliation contracts all run through 2018 or later. The Mariners have been based in Tacoma and Everett since 1995 and in Clinton since 2009.
The Mariners sought to leave Jackson, Tenn., because they preferred to have their Double-A affiliate based in the Texas League, which they believe provides easier traveling itineraries.
"The Mariners have a commitment to a strong minor-league system," McKay said, "and value the best possible environment for our prospects to develop. We will have that environment with the Arkansas Travelers."
The Arkansas franchise dates to 1901 and has been a member of five different leagues in its history. The Travelers have been part of the Texas League for the last 51 years and is the league’s longest-running current franchise.
"This brings an opportunity to again work with Jerry Dipoto and his staff," Travelers president Russ Meeks said. "We have a mutual understanding of our goals and objectives in the development of players at the Double-A level."
The club’s website says its nickname is "derived from the famous minstrel known as the Arkansas Traveler, who roamed the Ozark Mountains selling his wares and singing songs."
Once known as the Little Rock Travelers, the franchise was renamed in 1957 and claims to be the first pro franchise to be named after an entire state.
The Travelers play at Dickey-Stephens Park, which opened in 2007. It lists capacity as 7,200 with 5,800 fixed seats. It is named in honor of four men, including Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey.
Modesto plays at John Thurman Field, which opened in 1955 and underwent renovations in 1997. Further improvements, including a new video board, took place prior to the 2007 season. It lists 5,000 as capacity.
The franchise became the Nuts in 2005 in recognition of the many varieties of nuts that are grown in the region.
First baseman Adam Lind sported a new bleached-blond look that had teammate Robinson Cano calling him, "Eminem."
Lind called it just "something different," and even Cano declared, "I think he looks good." Felix Hernandez also endorsed Lind’s new look, which did not extend to Lind’s goatee.
The bleached look even prompted manager Scott Servais to joke that he’d undergo the same treatment if the Mariners win 10 of their last 12 games. Note: Servais stopped short of making it a pledge.
But the guess is Servais will be a blond if the Mariners end up with 89 victories.
SIX TIMES 15
The Mariners have six players with at least 15 home runs after Leonys Martin reached that threshold Monday with a two-run shot in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
It is just the fifth time in the club’s 40-year history that six players hit 15 or more. Entering Tuesday, Nelson Cruz had a club-leading 37, followed by Robinson Cano (33), Kyle Seager (29), Adam Lind (20), Seth Smith (16) and Martin (15).
The franchise record is seven players in 1997, but the current club has two players at 14: Franklin Gutierrez and Dae-Ho Lee.
The seven players who hit 15 or more in 1997: Ken Griffey Jr. (56), Jay Buhner (40), Paul Sorrento (31), Edgar Martinez (28), Alex Rodriguez (23), Russ Davis (20) and Dan Wilson (15).
The 1996, 1998 and 1999 clubs each had six players with 15 or more homers.
It was 20 years ago Wednesday —Sept. 21, 1996 — that the Mariners set what was then a franchise record by extending their winning streak to 10 games with a 9-2 victory over Oakland at the Kingdome.
The Mariners hit five homers in the game, including three in a row by Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez with one out in the third inning against Dave Telgheder.
After Jay Buhner flied out, Paul Sorrento hit a homer. (Buhner hit a homer earlier in the game.)
The 10-game winning streak remained the longest in franchise history until the 2001 club put together a 15-game run. The Mariners had another 10-game streak in 2002. Those are the only double-digit winning streaks in club history.
Outfielder Nori Aoki entered Tuesday with a .328 average (45-for-137) since the All-Star break but also needing 48 more plate appearances to trigger a $5 million player option for 2017. He was not in the starting lineup…Shawn O’Malley drew a start at shortstop over Ketel Marte, who was hitless in his last 10 at-bats with four strikeouts.
The Mariners and Blue Jays complete their three-game series at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Felix Hernandez (11-6 with a 3.79 ERA) will face Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez (13-2 and 3.17).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before starting their final road trip of the season, which consists of three weekend games at Minnesota and three games next week at Houston.
The regular season then concludes with four home games against Oakland.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners