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As we wrap this series, it’s time to take a look at how the MLB divisions would realign after the potential shake up prior to the 2028 season. Adding two teams and seeing one relocate would warrant MLB to realign their divisions in both the American and National leagues. More than likely it would call for the creation of a fourth division, as having 16 teams in each league would allow them to keep each division balanced. It’s now just a question of where would each team go?
Before getting into placement, it’s important to designate the expansion teams and relocation cities. Probably the two best cities for the expansions are Nashville, Tennessee and Salt Lake City, Utah. Nashville would provide new opportunity in terms of an ownership group. Salt Lake City meanwhile has the fan base that MLB should strive for, as well as resources such as laboratories that provide major services for the league going forward.
That just leaves the Tampa Bay Rays’ potential relocation. For them, Orlando may make the most sense. While Montreal would be amazing for baseball, there’s too many factors that could go against it, including questions of fan interest and if they were to use the name Expos, they may need to negotiate with the Washington Nationals as they hold the name rights. Plus, Orlando has a unique market as it’s already a tourist attraction.
So with that out of the way, it’s time to look at the divisions. The American and National leagues will stay the same, but instead of three divisions (east-central-west) it will go to four (north-south-east-west). Like a puzzle, each team will have a certain fit, it’s just a matter of where.
American League East: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays
Geographically it makes the most sense. Boston and New York are the two most eastern teams in the division. Baltimore is a city on the Atlantic Ocean. Toronto is also considered the eastern part of Canada.
American League North: Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins
With Toronto being in the East, that means the two most northern American League teams are Minnesota and Detroit. Cleveland meanwhile is separated from Canada by Lake Erie, designating it as a northern city. Chicago gets the nod by association: their football team, the Bears, are considered north, so we’ll go with that.
American West: Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, Seattle Mariners
If the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is considered “the gateway to the west,” then Kansas City is the west since it’s on the opposite side of the state. The other three cities all are in states that border the Pacific Ocean.
American League South: Houston Astros, Nashville Stars, Orlando Rays, Texas Rangers
Texas is the definition of the south: putting their teams in another division would make no sense (sorry Dallas Cowboys, you mucked up the NFL’s standings). The newly formed Nashville Stars should help usher in baseball’s newest division. The division will be anchored by another southernmost team, the Orlando Rays.
National League East: Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals
Normally, the Atlanta Braves would more than likely be considered the south. However, given their historic rivalry with the New York Mets, they get a pass and should stay in the east. The other two cities are classic staples of the east so there’s nothing out of the ordinary here.
National League North: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals
Chicago, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are considered northern cities, generally. However, where it gets tricky is between St. Louis and Milwaukee. The reason St. Louis stays is because historically they have a feud with Chicago, and Milwaukee historically has changed divisions in the past.
National League West: Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants
The west will pretty much consist of California cities. As mentioned in the American League west, California is the most west part of the continental United States so it makes sense. Milwaukee ends up in the west because they really haven’t been rooted in one division the way other teams have, and there’s no way they’d end up in the south.
National League South: Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Utah Bees
Arizona and Miami are two teams that while still young, have made a significant imprint in the MLB postseason since their debut and should add legitimacy to the division. Colorado is a south western team and could continue to add some legitimacy. Utah is where the pizazz comes in: nothing screams excitement like a new team.
There will be other changes such as a universal designated hitters rule, more pitching rules and more time cutting rules by this time. However, baseball will drastically different from how we see it now.