Blue Jays, AA affiliate extend relationship

The Toronto Blue Jays have reached a two-year player development contract extension with the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats that runs through the 2014 season.

Agreement probably quashes short-term hopes of professional baseball returning to Ottawa

The extended relationship announced Wednesday between the Blue Jays and their AA affiliate is good news for fans in Toronto and New Hampshire, respectively, just not those in Ottawa.

Until Wednesday, the best hope for the return of professional baseball in Ottawa was believed to have rested in the uncertain future of the Jays' minor league club with the previous agreement set to expire after this season.

The AAA Ottawa Lynx of the International League left town in the fall of 2007 after new owners moved the team to Allentown, Pa., beginning with the 2008 season, where it is known as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs — the Philadelphia Phillies' affiliate.

In February, a city committee approved the contract for Ottawa's baseball stadium. The city's potential deal was with Beacon Sports Capital Partners, who were proposing a 10-year lease of Ottawa Stadium — with two five-year extension options — for a AA team in the Eastern League.

The city would invest $5.7 million US for stadium improvements and help the stadium meet minor league standards, while Beacon Sports would pony up $5.5 million.

The Blue Jays-New Hampshire Fisher Cats extension runs through the 2014 season.

The Jays have been affiliated with the Fisher Cats since 2004. New Hampshire won Eastern League championships in 2004 and 2011.

New Hampshire has sent 55 players to the majors, including current Blue Jays pitchers Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek and Henderson Alvarez.

Evan Crawford, Drew Hutchison and Yan Gomes are among the former Fisher Cats who made their major-league debuts with Toronto this season.

With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press