After taking a one-year hiatus in 2012, the Mets will once again field a GCL club in 2013.
The team, which operates out of the parent organization's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, served as a Mets affiliate from 2004 through 2011 before being eliminated last winter. Out at the GM Meetings, Sandy Alderson weighed in:
"The new CBA has accelerated the signing of players from the draft. And with the continuation of two teams in the Dominican Summer League, we need more rookie level roster space for our young players. We are happy to be back in the Gulf Coast League while retaining our affiliation in Kingsport of the Appalachian League."
Alderson makes a valid point about the new CBA generating faster signings and thus more newly-minted pro players ready to play ball in the year the same summer they were drafted. So in that sense it was a numbers-crunch situation, which should now be rectified.
However, many speculated that the removal of the affiliate was a cost-cutting measure during a 2012 calendar year where the club's ownership faced serious questions about the state of their finances as well as whether or not they would have the liquidity to fund large-scale baseball operations going forward. Fortunately for the Wilpons, it seems like the worst is behind them as most of the uncertainty relating to the Madoff scandal has passed.
In any case, this is a net-win for the baseball operations side, one for the reason that Sandy stated, but also for those players -- newly drafted or otherwise -- that were advanced beyond DSL or VSL-caliber but not quite ready for Kingsport. It was no surprise that the K-Mets were one of the Appalachian League's worst club's in 2012, as they consisted of a whole host of players that were clearly not prepared for that level of play. Namely, I'm talking about guys like Branden Kaupe, Pedro Perez, Joe Tuschak, Corey Oswalt, etc.
This move also gives the Mets nine minor league affiliates -- tied with the Mariners and Rays for the most in baseball. Additionally, they're back to carrying three levels of rookie-ball (DSL, GCL and Kingsport).