The Kansas City Royals have announced a two-year extension of the franchise’s player development contract [PDC] with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The agreement will keep the Naturals serving as the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals through the 2022 season.
“We are thrilled to be extending our PDC with Northwest Arkansas for two more years,” said J.J. Picollo, vice president and assistant general manager of player personnel for the Royals. “The relationship we have with the Naturals staff and the community couldn’t be any better, and Arvest Ballpark is a first-class facility that our players enjoy calling home. Justin Cole and his staff have done a wonderful job maintaining and improving the facility, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by our staff and players. We are grateful for our relationship.”
Cole, who is vice president and general manager for the Naturals, said without the player development contract, the Naturals wouldn’t have a tie to the Royals or its players but would still play at Arvest Ballpark. If the contract wasn’t renewed, the Naturals would look for another Major League Baseball team to play and be affiliated with here, he said. The Naturals and the Royals previously extended the player development contract for the 2016-2020 seasons. The furthest the contract could be extended was through 2022, and the Royals and Naturals agreed to do this, Cole said.
The Naturals have been an affiliate of the Royals since starting to play at the Springdale ballpark in 2008, and the relationship between the Royals and Rich Baseball Operations began in 1995 in Wichita, Kan. It manages three Minor League Baseball teams owned by Buffalo, N.Y.-based Rich Products Corp., a family-owned food products company with more than $4 billion in annual sales. Along with the Naturals, the company owns the Buffalo Bisons and West Virginia Black Bears, which have major league affiliations with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Pittsburgh Pirates, respectively.
The Naturals’ first game of the 2020 season is April 9 in Texas against the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros. The first home game will be April 16 against the Hooks.