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Expansion? For or Against?

The news came out this week that Rob Manfred will be stepping down in 2029. The other news that came out is that he hopes to have everything in place by that time for baseball to expand to 32 teams. That will even things out to 16 teams in each league.

Ideally, they would have one on the west coast, and one in the east. I do not think at this point in time they would consider putting a team in Mexico. Altitude there in Mexico City is one problem and the other would be the high crime rate.

West Coast Options

There are some interesting options on the west side of the country. Portland has been mentioned several times. The population of the city is 652 thousand. But the Metro area has over 2.5 million. Portland only has the Trail Blazers for a pro team, but they draw well and are extremely popular. I have to believe that ideally they would also need at least a stadium with a retractable roof with all the rainfall in the Pacific Northwest.

San Jose has a metro population of over 1.9 million. Biggest problem San Jose faces is the fact that the Giants own the territorial rights to Santa Clara county. They have had those rights for several years and San Jose has tried unsuccessfully to get that changed.

Salt Lake City. Until recently, Salt Lake was not even in the conversation. The state and city though are strong supporters of the teams they do have. The Jazz, BYU and the University of Utah. Remember, Salt Lake hosted an Olympics and did a good job of that. They also have a stadium site picked out already where they could start construction of a new ball park.

Las Vegas. I know, the A’s are supposed to be moving there, but until they find a place to play after this season, even that is up in the air. Sacramento, and Salt Lake have been mentioned as possible sites. They are really under the gun with MLB needing some clarity soon.

Not in the west, but under consideration is the San Antonio-Austin area. You combine both metro area’s and the population is over 5 million. Although football is king in Texas, the two MLB teams there have done well. And there have been three World Champs from the state since 2017.

It would expand the rivalry that exists between Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth. Since most likely the league would split into eight four-team divisions, it would greatly reduce travel.

Montreal is also under consideration. But since one franchise failed there already, I am not sure MLB wants to try that again.

East Coast and South

Another site under consideration, Charlotte, North Carolina. Metro area has a little over 2.5 million and it has the 21st largest market. Charlotte already has the Hornets of the NBA and the Panthers of the NFL. Not to mention that the NHL’s Hurricanes are about two and a half hours away in Raleigh. They also have an MLS team and a AAA minor league team.

Another city that has been mentioned is Orlando. Orlando is also a tourist destination. Having spent some time there I can tell you there is a lot to see. But the biggest argument against Orlando is the fact that the two teams already in Florida do not draw all that well. Tampa is still trying to find a decent place for a new ballpark and Miami, despite winning two World Series in their existence, have drawn 2 million or more exactly 3 times since they came into the league in 93. Only in their first season did they draw well, over 3 million. Last season was the first time they drew over 1 million in 5 years. The Rays have passed 2 million, exactly once, their first season.

The AAA stadium though is in an area where it could not expand to accommodate a major league team. The area is bigger than three current MLB teams, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The reason they might not get a team, it is doubtful MLB would add two teams in the same area, and Nashville has been mentioned as the front runner.

The Nashville metro area has a little over 2 million people. And the city has the Titans of the NFL, and the NHL’s Predators. So many owners already consider Music City as a major sports town.

Nashville is also a popular tourist town with the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry as popular destinations. Most think that if they are granted a franchise, the team’s name would be the Stars. A homage to the city’s Negro League team, or maybe the Sounds, the name the current AAA team uses.

Well, those are the cities mentioned in the story I read. I like the idea of balanced leagues and less travel in the division. I also think it might be possible that like the last time, one or two of those franchises already in existence would change leagues like the Brewers and the Astros did.

For me, it would be Portland and Nashville. But if not Nashville, I would be okay with Charlotte. Let us know what you think.

 

 

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OhioDodger

It would be great to have 8 four team divisions. Win the division and you are in the playoffs. Scrap the wild cards.

Duke Not Snider

My druthers would be for the A’s to stay in the Bay Area.
The Giants’ territorial rights do not extend to the East Bay, and some years back there was talk of Cisco Systems teaming with the A’s to build a new stadium in Fremont, a short drive from San Jose, where I lived from 2000 to 2010. I don’t know why that idea fizzled.
Certainly the Bay Area is capable of supporting two teams.

As for expansion, I like the idea of Portland, Nashville and Charlotte. It puzzles me that Indianapolis, home of the Colts and the Pacers, doesn’t seem to be in the mix. And if not Montreal doesn’t work, how about Vancouver?
While people like to dump on San Francisco, the Giants drew 2.5 million last season–pretty much middle of the pack among franchises. The beautiful stadium helps.
The A’s were last in attendance at about 832,000. Part of the reason is the quality of the team (and the owner), but it’s also the quality of the venue. Worst ML ballpark I ever visited.

Oldbear48

No way the A’s stay there as long as they are owned by the present owner. The city fathers and he do not get along. Getting a new ballpark would have kept them there, but that is not going to happen. I have no clue why Indianapolis is not a choice. But there will be only two added.

Jorge Valenzuela

“It would be great to have 8 four team divisions.”

It’s exactly what I think, I guess it would be better.

Dave

There have been very well attended games played in Monterey Mexico and it has a big population and is very close to other US teams. Have they considered that? Vancouver is a possibility if there is baseball interest and a big enough population.
Also a quick look at the mlb map shows most teams still east of St Louis so my picks would be Portland,Vegas and Monterey. Create divisions geographically to reduce travel.
Oakland has been trying to stay for years and nothing has worked out. Either MLB needs to step in and allow a move to San Jose or let them move to Vegas like the Raiders did. Maybe Miami or Tampa Bay can move to Monterey and Nashville. These are just thoughts,not a diagram because, teams’ willingness to move, population and geographic balance all factor in.
But I volunteer to be on any MLB planning committee to help sort it all out!

Oldbear48

Very close? No even. Houston is the closest city to Mexico City, and it is over 900 miles away. Most US cities where there are teams are more than 1500 miles away. Phoenix is over 1700 miles from Mexico City. Main problems are A. Altitude, Mexico City is at an elevation of 7,350 feet. They would need a domed stadium because they, like Bejing, have a serious smog problem. B. Crime. The crime rate there is off of the charts. The government of Mexico is corrupt as is the police force. I do not think there is a chance for any team being placed in that city. They are only going to add two teams. Not three. If the A’s move to Vegas goes through, I think they will add Portland and Nashville.

Dave

You need to read what I wrote I wrote Monterey Mexico not Mexico City. Big difference. A flight from Monterey to Houston is @ 1.5 hrs.

Oldbear48

Sorry Dave, but Monterey is not on the list or under consideration. I miss read sorry.

Oldbear48

Vancouver metro has over 2.4 million, so the area is large enough. But it is more of a hockey town than baseball. Also it is pretty close to Seattle.

Bluto

Fangraphs published their overview of the Dodgers system, it goes 49 players deep! That said, Longenhagen echoes and details much of what Jeff D has written previously here:

Los Angeles Dodgers Top 49 Prospects

It doesn’t have the top-of-the-list star power it has tended to have during the last half decade or so, but the Dodgers system remains deep and healthy. It is a bit imbalanced, heavy on pitching and lighter on stable position player prospects. The Dodgers develop pitching as well as any organization in baseball, and they have a combination of both depth and quality that will guard their big league club against injury-related disaster for the foreseeable future….

The high-upside hitters in the premium FV tiers (40+ and above) are pretty volatile (De Paula, Cartaya, Liranzo, Osorio, Vargas, Morales, Quintero) with the exception of Rushing. These are good prospects, but the nature of the developmental process, especially when we’re talking about very young hitters, is one of attrition…and it’s not easy to come by great position player prospects when you’re almost always picking at the very end of each round, but this system lacks good hitters from the domestic draft. … Oh, it probably goes without saying, but Yoshinobu Yamamoto would be no. 1 on this list if we still considered all “rookies” to be “prospects.”

Last edited 3 months ago by Bluto
Bluto

Also:

Keith Law was on a Dodgers podcast I am unfamiliar with, Locked On. I’m so unfamiliar with it, I didn’t even know it had a simulcast on YouTube.

It’s a good discussion which delves into Rushing’s concussion, River Ryan’s upside, Cartaya’s plight, Andy Pages and more….

Jeff Dominique

I am not a fan of expansion. It is just a gimmick to get bad owners like John Fisher (A’s) and Bob Nutting (Pirates) more $$$ that they will stick in their pockets rather than spend on their roster. The estimated expansion fee is $2.2BB, or $4.4BB for two teams. That is more than $146MM per team to expand. It also sets the franchise valuation bar at the $2.2BB mark.

Reason 2 – Isn’t the talent pool diluted enough? There is not enough pitching to go around now. How bad do you think it is going to be with two more teams? I am already reading about pitchers with ERA’s north of 4.00 that are still referred to as quality and productive. The same with bats with .650 OPS. 

Honestly, I would prefer constriction. They did it with MiLB. But then again that was to save the owners $$$, and expansion at MLB will give them $$$. Gee, I wonder why they chose to constrict MiLB and prefer to expand MLB?

Keith

I would lean more towards contraction myself, some of these cities like Oakland and Tampa bay don’t seem to be viable enough to sustain a quality product.

i know it couldn’t happen. So in reality i would move the worst couple of teams to new cities, before i would expand.

Oldbear48

Moving the teams does not balance the league. There are 15 teams in each league. Going to 32 makes a lot of sense. That would be as high as I would go though. 8 four team divisions.

Bumsrap

Relocate the Rays to Portland and call them the Grays or Prays or rosés.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bumsrap
tedraymond

Bingo Jeff! I couldn’t agree more!! The quality is already watered down. I know that the owners will never reduce the number of teams or games per season. But, with the expanded playoffs,162 game season, and having the World Series finish up in November the season is too damn long. If you want the current playoff system, then reduce the regular season.

And, the owners that don’t spend money on scouting, analytics, player development, etc should not receive small market money. If they won’t spend it on improving their teams then why should big market teams support their disregard for the city, fans, and baseball? Another option might be striping them of the franchise if they don’t spend the supplemental monies they receive after two years.

Dodgerrick

I totally agree. MLB has too many teams already. Too many franchises aren’t willing to spend to put a good product on the field.

Last season 12 teams averaged fewer than 25,000 fans per home game. Some of these teams aren’t in “small markets”, like Oakland (10th largest media market), Arizona (11th), Washington (9th), White Sox (3rd), etc.

How do more teams make sense when there are so many teams who cannot draw 2 Million + fans, even if they win? (The Orioles won 101 games and drew 1.9 million).

Why further dilute the talent pool? Why have more non-competitive teams?

SpokaneBob

Jeff,
Thank you for providing this great site. Your prospective and comments are well reasoned and informative. I appreciate the work you and Bear do to provide such great content.

Jeff Dominique

Thank you Bob.

OC Dodger

Here, here! In particular, many of your postings/insights have opened my eyes to the business/financial side of baseball which I love to consider! I’m too damn conservative to run a club (like many of the small market teams) but appreciate you pointing out the details of their decision making. Please keep up the CFO perspective! Very insightful!
cheers

Last edited 3 months ago by OC Dodger
Keith

I’m out running around today, and caught Mike Ferrin, and Ryan Spillbourgh doing there Sirius radio show from camelback today. Considering they are broadcasters for the Rockies, and the Dbacks, it was good to fun to listen to an outside/opponents view point of the Dodgers. Got to listen to several short interviews with the players. They were quite positive about the team, and the organization, no sour grapes. In fact Spilly was commenting on how it wasn’t the money the organization pays in payroll, but the money they spend organizationally in medical, training, coaching analytics that makes the Dodgers a better team than most of the rest of the league.

One thing a bunch of you won’t like is Spilly did say he thought defense could be a weakness, and he specifically brought up Lux. He had the same concerns as Mark about Lux, I hope he and Mark are wrong, we’ll see.

Bluto

Longenhagen also has the same concerns

Jeff Dominique

He is not a fan of Lux’s defense. I have a post for tomorrow on the Fangraphs list. Fangraphs is my favorite propsect publication listings.

Phil Jones

Good, informative article, Bear.
Regarding expansion and suitable venues, I think Salt Lake has a lot going for it starting with a pro baseball tradition that goes back to 1915. Granted it’s a smaller market but here are some plusses. There is strong government support for an MLB team. There is strong ownership support starting with Gail Miller, wife of Larry Miller. Larry saved pro basketball in Salt Lake, keeping the Jazz and turning it from a planned move to Las Vegas in the early 80’s into s successful venture in SLC. The Miller family has it’s hands in successful sports venture of many kids. Dale Murphy is mentioned with the Millers and ownership. The Mormon community in SLC is very pro sports and very recreation supportive. They support and finance great public golf and recreation activities They are especially supportive of family oriented outdoor activities. In the northern part of the state, Utah State, Utah, BYU, Weber State and Utah Valley all have well attended sports and a good baseball history. The weather is better than people think with great summers and beautiful mountain backdrops. I think they could sustain MLB.
Portland has a long history of pro ball but not lately. They set records for attendance in the 70’s with the Portland Mavericks, an independent A- club, that look on its own life, I don’t think Portland is a baseball town. They have an A+ team in the suburb of Hillsboro since 2013 but they are outdrawn by Vancouver BC, with their A+ team. Portland is certainly a huge basketball town with the Blazers bing the only game in town and now soccer being a big draw. Oregon State has a well supported baseball program 85 miles down the road in Corvallis, but I don’t see that fan base switching from local Beaver games and traveling to Portland much. The summers are nice in Portland but the spring and fall can be wet.
Vegas looks like a no-brainer with its destination amenities. But we’re seeing the problems building where they want to locate on the Strip. My question is the sustainability; is there enough tourism with baseball interest? Is there enough baseball interest by the general population? They are sure trying to be an expanding sports venue in general. But if Vegas gets a team it appears to be Oakland and not an expansion franchise.
Montreal couldn’t support a MLB team in the past.
I don’t know much about Charlotte or Nashville as options.
So there’s my 2 cents, for what it’s worth.

Oldbear48

Thanks Phil Red Sox signed C J Cron to a minor league deal.

Singing the Blue

You’ve got me convinced on SLC, Phil, and that rendering of the stadium up above looks beautiful.

I think Vegas as a baseball town is going to be one huge swing and miss. Tourists don’t go there to watch baseball games. I really hope that deal collapses and they go back to Oakland whose fan base deserves to have a team with a decent owner.

With all of those Silicon Valley billionaires, someone should make Fisher an offer he can’t refuse and get him the hell out of there.

Last edited 3 months ago by Singing the Blue

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