One prominent baseball writer believes expansion and realignment in Major League Baseball are on the way -- a move that would have a significant impact on all 30 existing MLB franchises, including the Arizona Diamondbacks.
On Monday, Baseball America's Tracy Ringolsby wrote that there is "a building consensus that baseball will soon be headed to a 32-team configuration." This would include a pair of expansion teams, with the most likely host cities being Montreal and Portland, Oregon.
"It will lead to major realignment and adjustments in schedule, which will allow MLB to address the growing concerns of the union about travel demands and off days," Ringolsby wrote.
As part of the realignment process, 32 MLB teams would be placed in one of four eight-team divisions, as opposed to the current format that features six five-team divisions.
How would this scenario impact the Diamondbacks? Ringolsby says a potential West division would likely include:
-Four current National League West division teams: The D-backs, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.
-Three current American League West division teams: The Oakland A's, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners.
-An expansion franchise that would likely play in Portland.
Under this new format, Ringolsby says MLB would reduce the number of regular-season games played by each team from 162 to 156, including 12 games (six home, six away) against each division opponent.
Also, 12 teams would advance to the playoffs -- four division winners and eight Wild Card teams, AKA the eight teams with the best records among all non-division winners. The latter eight teams would play each other in a single-elimination playoff (similar to the existing Wild Card Game format), with the winners advancing to face the division champs in a quarterfinal round. The winners of those series would advance to a Championship Series, and those winners would compete in the World Series.
This format would allow each team to take one day off each week, and it would feature a much more limited travel schedule, which would reduce travel expenses for MLB. It would also "add to the natural rivalries by not just having them as interleague attractions, but rather a part of the regular divisional battles," Ringolsby wrote.