- Location: Vancouver, BC
- League: Pacific Coast League 1978-1999; Northwest League 2000-2019; High-A West 2021-
- Affiliation: Oakland A's 1978; Milwaukee Brewers 1979-1986; Pittsburgh Pirates 1987; Chicago White Sox 1988-1992; California Angels 1993-1996; Anaheim Angels 1997-1998; Oakland A's 1999-2010; Toronto Blue Jays 2011-present
- Ballpark: Nat Bailey Stadium
The Vancouver Canadians, formerly of the Northwest League and now in High-A West, are the only Canadian team operating in a U.S.-based affiliated league. The Toronto Blue Jays farmhands play their home games at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, BC.
While one might assume a rule or a tradition put them together, the partnership between Canada's only remaining teams in Organized Baseball is, like all affiliations, a mutual decision.
However, MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization apparently nearly ended the pairing. The restructuring raised the Canadians, and most of the NwL, two levels to High-A. It also raised the Midwest League one level, giving the Jays two High-A teams - the Canadians and the Lansing Lugnuts. Baseball isn't transparent with the affiliation process - teams didn't even always announce them before the reorganization, often just letting them become obvious after the biennial change cycle - but in this case the San Francisco Chronicle broke a story that didn't happen. It looks more a change of mind than an error in journalism.
An October 20th story by Susan Slusser reported the Jays would drop the C's in favor of the Lugnuts, who are some 2,000 miles closer to Toronto and line up much more closely with the Jays' other farm clubs. While the Canadians president said: "As of today we have not been notified of any changes regarding our affiliation," the A's farm editor and the C's play-by-play announcer tweeted about the change. However, Slusser followed up with two tweets on November 30th: "Vancouver appears to be staying a Toronto affiliate" followed by "Sounds as if potential border/COVID restrictions might have contributed."
Meanwhile, Oakland must have dropped its MwL club, the Beloit Snappers - on whom the A's had first call and who were in the very act of building a new stadium - in anticipation of signing Vancouver. The December 9th announcements of affiliation invitations had the Miami Marlins with Beloit, the Jays with Vancouver, and the A's with the Lugnuts.
The Jays may have simply changed their minds on what must have been a close call. Seeing future Jays probably accounts for a large contingent of Toronto fans living on Canada's Pacific Coast, whose closest MLB option is the Seattle Mariners with seven others in between; that presumably also boosts the Canadians' gates. None of that changed between October 20th and November 30th, but it could be the specific point on which the Jays' decision shifted. They did touch on it in their invitations announcement: "As this country’s only Major League Baseball team, the club takes great pride in maintaining a West Coast presence, introducing future Blue Jays players to Canadian fans and helping grow the game nationally."
The border may have been a factor on its own merit. Principles and observers alike say Organized Baseball's only remaining Canadian team's tie benefits both.
The C's became the last affiliated club in Canada in 2008, when the Ottawa Lynx moved to Allentown, PA. There have been several iterations of Vancouver professional baseball, mostly Triple-A clubs playing as Canadians or Mounties. In their final Triple-A year, the Pacific Coast League Canadians won the Triple-A World Series. After that season, they became the Sacramento River Cats and the NwL's Southern Oregon Timberjacks moved to Vancouver, BC to take over the Canadians' brand.