MLB Expansion Is Not Imminent

Mitch Spence Delivers Gem For Athletics In Win Over Rays
Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Mitch Spence delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Maybe seven years away?

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has been talking about his owners adding two teams for a long time. Major League Baseball expansion is inevitable. But it seems very unlikely that Manfred will be the commissioner when Major League Baseball actually expands. Manfred, a Harvard educated lawyer, seems to just spit out tidbits about expansion that are contradictory. Maybe he learned that being a lawyer you can constantly make contradictory statements and no one will question you. The prevailing thought is that MLB cannot expand until stadium situations in Oakland and in St. Petersburg are resolved. Until there are shovels in the ground in Las Vegas now that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has decided to move to Nevada and in St. Petersburg, those stadium situations still need to be resolved. There are also stadium issues in Chicago and in Phoenix that need to be resolved.

Manfred also has made puzzling statements about the cities that could be considered possible targets for expansion. In 2018, Manfred identified markets MLB was considering.  “Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville in the United States, certainly Montréal, maybe Vancouver, in Canada. We think there’s places in Mexico we could go over the long haul.” Manfred said in  April 2023,  “I think Nashville you have to think about as an expansion candidate.” But recently the Major League Baseball Commissioner did a U-turn and said “I have never identified particular cities as targets. We need an Eastern time zone and either a Mountain or Western time zone city, just in terms of making the format work in the best possible way.” Nashville is in the central time zone. Does that mean Nashville is out? Probably not. Manfred said he intends to have a two-team expansion plan in place in January 2029, which means the new teams cannot start play until at least 2031.

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