EVERETT — Reports surfaced over the weekend suggesting that amidst the chaos currently enveloping Minor League Baseball, the Everett AquaSox will remain a Seattle Mariners affiliate and will become a full-season High-A team.
The Orange County Register reported that the Northwest League, of which Everett is a member, will become a full-season High-A league as part of Minor League Baseball’s restructuring. Meanwhile, Baseball America reported that the Mariners posted to a job site for minor-league coaching positions for five teams, including Everett.
AquaSox general manager Danny Tetzlaff declined to comment on the situation. However, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, when addressing local media on Friday, said: “We have to wait until next week to find out what the final final is on that, but we anticipate that Everett will continue to be an affiliate of ours, and we just have to determine what the setup is going to be once they pick the leagues and the levels, etc.”
Everett has been a member of the Short-Season A Northwest League since the team’s inception in 1984. However, all of Minor League Baseball has been in limbo since Major League Baseball made a play to take over administration of the minors with the intent of contracting the number of affiliated teams from 160 to 120. The Sox, who have been a Mariners affiliate since 1995, have not been considered a team in danger of losing its affiliated status.
Turning the Northwest League into a High-A league would impact the product the Sox put on the field in a positive way. As a short-season team, Everett’s roster typically consisted of college players just selected in the June amateur draft, along with some of the Mariners’ youngest prospects, largely from Latin America. A switch to High-A would move Everett up two rungs on the minor-league ladder, meaning the Sox would have players further along in their development. Therefore, if the reports are accurate, Everett would feature players who have a greater chance of one day playing for the Mariners.
However, a switch to a full-season schedule would come with complications for the Sox. Everett plays at Funko Field, which is owned by the Everett School District and is used by high schools and Everett Community College during the spring. The Northwest League’s short-season schedule begins in mid-June, after high school and college seasons have ended. However, full-season leagues get started in April, so any Sox home games in April and May face potential scheduling conflicts.
The Sox have not been in action since September 2019, as the entire 2020 Minor League Baseball season was lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Everett’s website lists no schedule for the 2021 season.
School board voting on license amendments
The Everett School District board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on two amendments to the licence agreement between the district and the Sox on the use of Funko Field. The amendments would waive the $31,330 payment owed by the Sox to the district for 2020, since the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as extend the deadline for the Sox to trigger the renewal of the licence agreement for an additional seven years to May 1, 2021.