How Yankees Would Fare in Latest MLB Realignment Proposal

Max Goodman

Plenty of proposals have been discussed by Major League Baseball to bring this year's season back amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this week's latest proposal, all 30 big-league clubs will be split into thirds geographically, creating three ten-team divisions. The season – which would begin no later than July 4, would consist of more than 100 games solely against division opponents, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.

The plan would allow for all teams to play in their home cities, while limiting cross-country travel as all opponents in their division would be in relatively close proximity. Within this plan, fans will not be permitted into ballparks. 

Here's how New York's division would look in this realigned format:

EAST:

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

Contrary to some of the other proposed plans to bring the game back amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, teams will still be able to play against their perennial bitter rivals and in traditional venues. That ensures MLB returns with familiarity during unprecedented times. 

A proposal like the 'Arizona-Florida Plan' – which shifts divisions to align with the geography of Spring Training sites – takes that factor of the game away.

Further, playing in home ballparks allows players and their families to stay together moving forward. 

This was one of the main sources of criticism regarding the 'Arizona Plan,' a blueprint that has all personnel traveling to one spot and remaining in quarantine throughout the rest of the season. Yes, that helps limit the chances for players or coaches contracting the coronavirus, but distancing for months at a time is easier said than done when players have families back home. 

That couldn't be more relevant for New York's Gerrit Cole, for instance. His wife is due with the couple's first child this summer – something the Bombers' ace wouldn't be able to be a part of if he is quarantined in Arizona.

Other than Cole, several members of the Yankees' organization have vocalized their support of the Arizona Plan over the last few weeks. 

The Yankees' new division would include an added set of challenges. Rather than the typical American League East – where the Rays were poised to be New York's lone competitor for a division title – the Mets, Nationals and Phillies are added to the mix. Each of those three clubs are projected to finished at or above .500 this past season.

It's worth noting, Atlanta and Pittsburgh actually trade places within this proposal, swapping from the east and central regions respectively. That benefits the Bombers as rather than facing the reigning National League East champions, and battling for a division title with Atlanta's phenomenal young core, New York takes on the 69-win Pirates. 

Circling back to travel, beyond the Marlins and Rays in Florida, New York has manageable road trips to the other seven venues in the division. In a shortened season, when each game counts, less time on the plane or on a bus is always a plus. 

With an expanded playoffs format within this proposal as well, there's no doubt – baring a catastrophic performance when the season eventually begins – New York will earn a spot in the postseason. 

READ: Derek Jeter's Hall of Fame induction ceremony has been canceled, postponed to the summer of 2021

Results aside, this division has the potential to host some electric matchups. Imagine New York needing to take down the defending champion Nationals down the stretch with Max Scherzer on the mound against Cole? What about Joe Girardi and Didi Gregorius coming back to the Bronx in Phillies uniforms?

The realigned eastern division is also the perfect chance for Major League Baseball to reinvigorate geographic rivalries – like the Yankees and Mets – that otherwise only take place once or twice in the middle of the season. With all that's gone on in New York City with the coronavirus, how exciting would it be to have the two local teams battling it out between the lines and at their home ballparks?

Playing at home in the Bronx, with a star-studded roster equipped for a shortened campaign, the Yankees are poised for a deep run. Let's not forget, postponing the season through the end of June will give key contributors like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, James Paxton and even Aaron Hicks plenty of time to continue rehabbing and recovering from their injuries. 

The only question remaining is whether or not MLB officials pick this proposal and bring baseball back. All eyes are on COVID-19 and how it progresses these next few weeks as all proposals are contingent upon the virus' development.

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees

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