Report: MLB Discussing New Realignment Plan Allowing the Season to Start in Late June

Chris Halicke

Editor's Note: This story has been updated since originally published.

Major League Baseball is discussing a plan that would allow the regular season to start in late June, and no later than July 2, with games played in each team's home ballparks, according to USA Today. 

According to the report, MLB officials have become "cautiously optimistic" of the late-June/early-July start. This latest plan that's come to light is gaining support from club owners and executives. The most significant reason for optimism among MLB officials for a season start is COVID-19 testing becoming more readily available to the public and a number of states beginning to reopen. 

The full details of this plan are not yet public knowledge since it is still one of several ideas MLB is considering. USA Today's report did reveal that this plan would allow for at least 100 regular season games, an expanded playoff format, and would include a realignment from the traditional American and National Leagues to three 10-team divisions based on geography to minimize travel. Clubs would only play opponents inside their division with the games played at their home ballpark sans fans. 

The three division realignment would look like this:

East

  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Miami Marlins
  • New York Mets
  • New York Yankees
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Washington Nationals

Central

  • Atlanta Braves
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Minnesota Twins
  • St. Louis Cardinals

West

  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Houston Astros
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Oakland Athletics
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Texas Rangers

A plan of this magnitude is obviously contingent on the approval of public health officials and medical experts, all without reducing access to public testing for the novel coronavirus. There is belief that this plan would eliminate the requirement for players to live in isolation since they would be playing at their home ballparks and have significantly reduced travel. 

USA Today's report also mentioned an additional benefit of this plan, eliminating other contingency plans that include players living in isolation:

One of the additional benefits to playing in major-league cities is it would alleviate a possible split among players who are opposed to playing the entire season in Arizona/Florida/Texas. Several high-profile players, including the Angels' Mike Trout and the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw expressed strong resistance to playing the season away from their families.

-Bob Nightengale, USA Today

Regarding a start for a second spring training, USA Today reported on Thursday that teams would utilize their home ballparks and have 18 to 21 days before the start of the season. The details of the expanded playoff format are still unknown. As a matter of fact, there are many details of the plan that have to be worked out, especially from a revenue standpoint. With the probability of games played without fans for at least at the start of the season, MLB revenue streams will take a major hit. 

No plan that MLB can conjure up will be a perfect scenario. Certain sacrifices will have to be made in order for there to be a baseball season in 2020. 

“I think everybody wants the season to matter, to have some bulk and substance, to have a meaningful sample," Texas Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said via conference call on Monday. "But we know it’s not a normal year. If we want to play, we’re going to have to be willing to bend a little and make more sacrifices. It may look different, it may not. But if it is going to be different, I’m willing to bend.”

Maybe this latest plan will work. Maybe it won't. It's just one of several plans that MLB is mulling over. But with another plan becoming public knowledge, it's clear MLB is exhausting all of its options.

Follow Inside The Rangers on SI on Twitter: @SITexasRangers
Like Inside The Rangers on SI on Facebook: facebook.com/SITexasRangers
Follow our Rangers insider Chris Halicke on Twitter: @ChrisHalicke

Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Inside The Rangers on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1
Chris Halicke
Chris Halicke

Editor

For my own commentary regarding the Rangers in this plan, them and Houston may have the most brutal schedule under this plan given the teams within their division. I don't think most people realize how far away DFW and Houston are from the west coast. El Paso is pretty much the halfway point between Dallas and San Diego. Lots of time would be spent flying back and forth to the west coast with a lot of late games and jet lag.


News

FEATURED
COMMUNITY