According to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today, there could be a new 10-team, three division proposal, and the Blue Jays would have quite the division.
There seems to be increasing optimism every day about a potential return of Major League Baseball in 2020, and Bob Nightengale from USA Today provided us with the latest example of the league official working to make that happen.
Nightengale cites three industry experts who believe that baseball could return by the end of June, or “no later than July 2”, and that would require some plans to get ramped up in a hurry. To that end, there appears to be another new proposal in the works, and one that would of course have to be agreed upon between the player’s union and the ownership group.
In this case, the league would be split into three new divisions, each made up of ten teams. There are two parts of this that are especially interesting to me, and I’ll start with the biggest surprise in Nightengale’s piece. Apparently the plan is:
“And not only would baseball be played, but it would be played in their own major-league ballparks, albeit with no fans.”
Let’s face it, that could be a very big challenge for the Blue Jays, and it’s possible they would have to go to an alternative site in the United States. That’s not going to be ideal, and there would have to be a negotiation with the league in order for Canada’s only team to sign off on that type of plan. Granted, that would be a roadblock for just one of the 30 teams in the league, but one would think it would be a heavy consideration. The only reason I could see Rogers accepting such a scenario is because there wouldn’t be local ticket revenue from Toronto in this proposal anyway.
The second part that caught my eye were the divisions that Nightengale included. They would be based on geography even more so than usual, and would have to disregard the traditional AL/NL splits, and it could make for a very interesting situation for the Blue Jays. Here’s who Nightengale had them with:
New York Yankees, New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins, and of course, the Blue Jays.
They obviously aren’t getting a reprieve from their AL East division rivals, but I quite like the way the rest of this looks, at least compared to the other alternatives. In fact, I would argue it would be the weakest of the three divisions (see Nightengale’s article for the others), and could potentially provide the Blue Jays with a fighting chance.
As things stands I’ll readily admit that they’re well behind the Yankees, Nationals, and Rays. The Nationals are coming off of a World Series championship, and still have an overwhelming rotation. The Rays continue to put together one of the better teams in baseball on a shoestring budget, and the Yankees added Gerrit Cole to a pretty scary team already.
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The next tier would include the Red Sox, Mets, and Phillies, and while I’d consider the Blue Jays to be behind that trio as well, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that they could compete, or even exceed their production in this new division alignment. The Red Sox lost Mookie Betts from their roster a year ago, and even more importantly, Chris Sale from a fairly thin rotation. The Mets are going to be without Noah Syndergaard as well, and they’ll need to prove they’re more than just a bunch of names on paper. The same goes for the Phillies, who had a chance to make the post-season last year but proved they weren’t quite ready.
Where the Blue Jays would especially have a leg up on teams outside of this East Division would be with the lower tier. The Orioles, Marlins, and Pirates should be three of the worst teams in baseball, and in theory, the Blue Jays should be able to beat up on them a fair bit.
There’s no official word on a playoff format for this proposal, but there have been rumblings of a bigger tournament style conclusion to the season. In that case, the Blue Jays may have a pretty solid chance to finish in the top half of their division, and who knows, might even qualify for this new playoff format. From there, anything could happen.
The reality is, it’s all just speculation until a firm plan is put in place, but it’s fun to think about the Blue Jays chances in a situation like this. Yes, it would still be a year of transition in their rebuilding process, but in a scenario like this one, I think they might be able to surprise some people.