Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been open about wanting to expand baseball to 32 teams once the situation with the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays gets resolved, and that could open the door for sweeping changes in the league.
There are a number of cities that become the future home of an MLB team, including Portland, Ore., Las Vegas, Charlotte, N.C., and the Austin/San Antonio, Texas area.
Whenever the 31st and 32nd teams join MLB, it could lead to the realignment of divisions and a change in the playoff format, according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.
Stark explained how potential future realignment could work in a fascinating piece published Wednesday.
The first possibility Stark floated would put the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees into opposite divisions.
Here’s Stark’s potential geographic realignment:
New York Mets
Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Stark noted that the realignment could be tweaked, obviously, to put rivals in the same division.
“When we talked about this, it just felt like a very futuristic conversation,” a source told Stark. “It might seem so radical. But it has so many advantages from a scheduling, fan and attendance standpoint.”
Stark also notes this approach would negate the designated hitter as it would effectively do away with the American and National Leagues. But if MLB wanted to keep the leagues intact but stick with eight four-team divisions, it might look like this, per Stark.
A realignment coupled with a shortened season and a different format could be exactly the change baseball has been looking for, but it likely still will be some time before the two new teams enter the league.