As the stadium situations in Tampa Bay and Oakland continue toward some kind of resolution (maybe? probably? eventually?), MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred have made no secret of their intentions to look at expansion to 32 teams in the next few years. Doing so would not only allow for a more balanced schedule and perhaps a couple more playoff teams, but would also put a whole lot of money into the pockets of current owners via the franchise fees paid to join the league, and extra revenue generated.
In other words: it’s coming. Not next season, and probably not the year after that, but soon thereafter.
To that end, a big step in the process of trying to be one of those new clubs is reportedly underway in Portland, Oregon, where a group has “made formal offers made two formal offers on large parcels of land for the purposes of building a 32,000-seat ballpark and large-scale development.” (NBC)
You can read more here and here, but the short version is: this is a very serious, legit process, and this group very much intends to complete a ballpark for the purposes of a future MLB team in Portland.
Together with Montreal and Las Vegas, Portland has long been one of the most realistic candidates for an expansion team. If and when MLB goes to 32 teams, we could see an NFL-style four teams in eight divisions. The playoffs would be tricky in that instance – four division winners in each league, sure, but how many Wild Cards? If only two, you’d have a problematic number of second round teams, unless the Wild Card teams play division winners in the first round … but then you’d have two teams sitting for a week. Get rid of the Wild Card entirely? Add two Wild Cards? Neither of those options sound great either.
There’s plenty of time to ponder those questions, but I remain of the mind that this is not a flight of fancy. Expansion is a thing that is happening.