Major League Baseball added its 29th (Arizona Diamondbacks) and 30th (Tampa Bay Rays) teams before the 1998 season and has held firm at that number for more than two decades. In a few years, MLB expansion is expected to return.
Expansion has been put on the back burner in recent years with league officials focused on the Rays and Oakland Athletics pushing for new stadiums. While there is no clarity on where either of those clubs will call home in the future, it’s evident any outcome won’t prevent baseball from growing once again.
In a series of interviews with Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN, Manfred addressed future MLB expansion and shared that his goal is to have a 32-team league. Van Ntta Jr. also notes in the story that “expansion is coming” for MLB.
There remains no specific timetable for when MLB expansion will happen. However, cities are slowly putting together efforts to become a part of professional baseball in the future.
Howard Bryant of ESPN reported in April that a group in Nashville is starting to put together a big for an expansion team. There’s also the Portland Diamond Project, an effort to bring MLB to Oregon with plans for a stadium proposal.
Cities in texas like Austin and San Antonio, along with Charlotte, North Carolina and Orlando, Florida. There’s also the possibility of MLB expansion bringing the sport back to Montreal, especially after the Rays’ split-city plan fell through.
There are more pressing matters at hand for MLB before the league expands. There will need to be definitive outcomes for the A’s and Rays’ stadium sagas, whether that means new stadiums in their current cities or relocation
Another focus is the expected sale of the Washington Nationals, with the club expected to fetch between $2-3 billion. Considering the level of interest in the Nationals’ sale from potential buyers, there is clearly a market of billionaires and investors wanting to be a part of MLB.
Whenever MLB expansion finally happens, expect Manfred and team owners to set the price tag at a minimum of $2 billion. Not only will it expand the sport, but it will increase league revenue and further inflate franchise values.