The Arizona Diamondbacks announced early Wednesday afternoon the Major League Baseball club has extended its player-development contract with the Missoula Osprey for four more years.

The O’s, in the midst of the first week of their 14th season in the Garden City, will remain the D-backs’ Rookie-League affiliate in the Pioneer League through at least the 2016 season. The current deal was set to expire after the current campaign.

“We have been with the Arizona Diamondbacks since they were granted an expansion franchise and we see no reason to end that relationship now,” said Osprey Executive Vice President Matt Ellis in a press release. “We feel the Diamondbacks are one of the best-run and quality organizations in the major leagues.”

The Osprey franchise moved from Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1999 and has been an affiliate of the Diamondbacks since 1996, a year before Arizona began competing as an expansion franchise in Major League Baseball.

“We share philosophies of developing quality players on and off the field and the importance of community involvement through our players and franchises,” Ellis said. “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the Diamondbacks and look forward to the next four years and beyond.”

In their partnership, the Osprey and D-backs have combined to send 36 former Missoula players to the major leagues. Some former Osprey currently in the majors include Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, Arizona catcher Miguel Montero and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt as well as Detroit relief pitcher Jose Valverde and Miami infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio.

“The Arizona Diamondbacks are thrilled to be in Missoula for at least another four years. We take pride in being the only organization the Osprey have been affiliated with,” said Mike Bell, Director of Player Development for the D-backs. “The Ellis family has gone above and beyond what is necessary to ensure our young players have the best environment to grow as players and more importantly as people.

“We are grateful to the Missoula community for their support and we are dedicated to putting together high-character winning teams.”

The Osprey won PBL championships in 1999 and 2006, have reached the league playoffs five times and earned postseason berths two of the last three summers.

Missoula plays its 2012 home opener at Ogren-Allegiance Park at 7 p.m. Friday against the Great Falls Voyagers.

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MLB has $7.5 billion in annual revenue and Missoula taxpayers are on the hook for $4 million for a BB stadium that's empty nine months out of the year. Bite me.

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