(CBS Local)- Major League Baseball continues to consider all options as the league looks to put together a shortened 2020 season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, reports indicated the league was considering having all 30 teams relocate to Arizona for the summer. Now, it is reportedly considering an even more radical change.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports, MLB is considering realigning the league to match the Spring Training set up for all 30 teams. So, instead of the traditional National and American Leagues, it would become the Grapefruit (Florida) and Cactus (Phoenix) leagues.
“The plan would have all 30 teams returning to their spring-training sites in Florida and Arizona, playing regular-season games only in those two states and without fans in an effort to reduce travel and minimize risks in the midst of the COVD-19 pandemic.
The divisions would be realigned based on the geography of their spring-training homes.”
In this scenario, the new layout of the league would look like this.
- NORTH: New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers, Pittsburgh Pirates.
- SOUTH: Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles.
- WEST: Washington Nationals, Houston Astros, New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins.
- NORTHEAST: Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s.
- WEST: Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels.
- NORTHWEST: Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals.
The plan would have teams return to their spring training complexes for three weeks of training in order to prepare for the regular season. Tony LaRussa, a senior advisor of baseball operations for the league, told Nightengale that the league is trying to get creative, so why say no?
There are some advantages to the plan. Most notably that the majority of teams already have spring training complexes and facilities in these areas which they are familiar with. There are also several domed stadiums which would allow for play in the case of inclement weather.
On the other hand, Florida has become one of the hot spots for the coronavirus in recent weeks with over 16,000 confirmed cases as of today. The question of testing and keeping players and teams isolated would still need to be answered.
But, Nightengale points out, nothing has been decided as of yet. Though if the plan were to go forward, the winner of the Arizona (Cactus) league would take on the winner of the Florida (Grapefruit) league in the World Series.