In anticipation of an abbreviated 2020 season, one of many proposals MLB is reportedly considering is a major realignment that would eliminate the traditional American and National Leagues, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
“The plan would have all 30 teams returning to their spring training sites in Florida and Arizona,” Nightengale writes, “playing regular-season games only in those two states and without fans in an effort to reduce travel and minimize risks in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The divisions would be realigned based on the geography of their spring training homes.”
The clubs would first be allowed three weeks of training, adds Nightengale, including exhibition games, before opening a regular season in divisions that could look like so:
NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates.
SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles.
EAST: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins.
NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics.
WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels.
NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.
The most significant change for the Blue Jays would be to a move out of the AL East, along with the Yankees, to play against their Grapefruit league opponents, which could mean an easier path to the playoffs for Toronto.
Nightengale elaborated on how the post-season format could potentially look under such a format.
“Baseball, even with the realignment, could still play 12 games apiece against their new divisional opponents and six games apiece against the other teams in the state. … The DH would likely be universally implemented as well. There could still be division winners and wild-card winners, perhaps adding two more wild-card teams to each league, or a postseason tournament with all 30 teams,” he wrote.
“The winner of the Cactus League in Arizona would play the winner of the Grapefruit League in Florida for the World Series championship, utilizing the domed stadiums in late November.”
No official decision has yet been made on when the league will return, or what exactly that return will look like.