MLB has at least three problems to solve.
Under normal circumstances, the hiring of an out of work baseball executive to run a Major League Baseball franchise would not generate much news except in the local market. But according to Jayson Stark of the Athletic, the Philadelphia Phillies hiring of Dave Dombrowski to run the business may have a much larger meaning. It may send a signal that Major League Baseball has no intentions of expanding anytime soon. Dombrowski parted ways with the Boston Red Sox organization and decided to join John Loar’s effort to get an expansion team in Nashville. Dombrowski, according to Stark, had turned down offers in Philadelphia but decided to listen to Phillies executives’ pitches. Dombrowski was committed to Nashville until he spoke with Phillies ownership and upper-level management. They made clear to him that expansion is not happening anytime soon.
Dombrowski took the Phillies position. It is unlikely Major League Baseball will expand anytime soon for a multitude of reasons unless MLB owners need a major cash infusion. Realistically, MLB owners won’t know how much financial damage was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for at least another year. So much depends on the COVID-19 vaccines and containment. There is also the issue of the collective bargaining agreement with the players. That deal expires after the 2021 season. MLB is also dealing with getting stadium situations straightened out in Oakland and in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Oakland Athletics’ ownership was pushing to get a deal with local officials to build a stadium-village on the San Francisco Bay waterfront. While Tampa Bay Rays’ ownership was pitching a plan to split home games between Tampa and Montreal. COVID-19 has thrown a roadblock into those plans. COVID-19, The CBA and the stadium situations need to be settled before MLB can expand.