The Mariners purchased the Modesto Nuts of the Class A Cal League and signed a four-year player development contract with the franchise.

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The Mariners not only have a new affiliate in the Class A Cal League, but they also own it. On Tuesday, the team announced what had been rumored for a month — they have purchased a majority share of the Modesto Nuts while completing a four-year player development contract with the franchise.

“The Mariners are committed to a strong minor league system,” said Mariners director of player development Andy McKay in a statement. “That commitment, coupled with our desire to remain in the California League and the great opportunity to be affiliated with the Nuts and the city and fans of Modesto, has led us to this partnership. We are looking forward to many, many years of success here in Modesto.”

Seattle had been with the Bakersfield Blaze the past two seasons. But the Blaze and the High Desert Mavericks — also a one-time Mariners’ affiliate — were contracted from the league, leaving the league with eight teams. To make sure they wouldn’t be caught in an affiliate shuffle in the shrinking Cal League, the Mariners purchased the majority share in the Nuts. HWS Baseball IV, LLC will continue to manage the franchise’s day-to-day operations. It’s the second affiliate to be purchased by a parent MLB club. The San Francisco Giants are the majority owners of the San Jose Giants franchise.

“I think this is a great day for the Nuts, the City of Modesto and all baseball fans in the Stanislaus County area,” said Michael Savit, Managing Partner of HWS Baseball IV, LLC, which has owned and managed the team since 2005. “The Mariners are a great organization, and the commitment they are making to the franchise says a great deal about Modesto and its baseball future.  We couldn’t be happier about partnering with the Mariners.”

The Mariners have had a team in the California League for all but one season since 1978. Modesto becomes the ninth team Seattle has been affiliated with, joining Stockton (1978), San Jose (1979-80), Bakersfield (1982-83 & 2015-16), Salinas (1984-87), San Bernardino/Inland Empire (1988-92 & 2001-2006), Riverside (1993-95), Lancaster (1996-2000) and High Desert (2007-2014).