HOUSTON -- Now that Nolan Ryan is on board with the Astros as executive adviser to a front office that includes his son, president of business operations Reid Ryan, could a switch of the club's Triple-A affiliates be far behind?
The Round Rock Express, the Astros' former Double-A and Triple-A team that has been affiliated with the Rangers since 2010, is co-owned by Nolan Ryan and Houston businessman Don Sanders, so it would seem a natural progression for the Express to replace Oklahoma City as the Astros' Triple-A club.
Reid Ryan, who founded the Round Rock club, said he wasn't allowed to get into specifics on a player-development contract (PDC), but the Rangers' contract with Round Rock was recently extended through the 2018 season. The Astros and Oklahoma City will see their PDC expire at the end of this season.
"There are rules in place, things in place, that enable an organization to switch during an active PDC, and so, are those things something we would look at? As the season nears an end, we probably would," Reid Ryan said. "That doesn't mean it's going to happen, and we always look to keep all our options open to find out the best for the Houston Astros."
The Express had been the Triple-A affiliate for the Astros since 2005 before aligning with Texas in 2010, when Nolan Ryan was part of a group awarded ownership of the Rangers. Oklahoma City was the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate from 1983-2010.
Having their Triple-A club back in Round Rock would benefit the Astros. Round Rock is less than three hours from Minute Maid Park, and it would allow them a bigger presence in Central Texas.
Of course, Astros owner Jim Crane would like to move the Triple-A team near the city's northern suburbs of The Woodlands or Conroe, which would require building a stadium and relocating an existing franchise. That would be several years down the road if they were to accomplish it.
Last year, the Astros had conversations with Johnson Development, which was in the process of purchasing a 2,000-acre Boy Scout camp north of Houston, about acquiring land.
Nolan Ryan, citing a desire to spend more time on his ranch and with his family, stepped down as CEO of the Rangers at the end of October. He was hired by the Astros on Tuesday.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.