MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Eyes Expansion, Adding Two Teams in Near Future

by Patrick Norton

Rob Manfred’s reign as Major League Baseball‘s Commissioner since 2015 has been less-than-forgiving for the 63-year-old. A rough negotiation process through a lock out of the players this Spring put a giant target on the commissioner’s back.

However, that isn’t stopping Manfred’s efforts to grow America’s pastime. In a recent interview with ESPN, Manfred alluded to a line-up of billionaires waiting to get their hands on future franchises. While MLB should dedicate some level of focus toward building a sturdy base for the active 30 teams, the potential introduction of new organizations is certainly intriguing.

But expansion doesn’t mean a rapid climb above the ranks of other professional sports leagues. Rather, Manfred “would love to get to 32 teams.” But location is where the intrigue lies.

Las Vegas is the front-runner for every expansion team, adding the NHL’s Golden Knights in 2017. However, the Las Vegas Raiders – formerly of Oakland – dispel that expansion is necessary for a move to Sin City. With expansion only walking up the driveway, it appears the Oakland Athletics could be knocking on the door of the gambling haven.

Instead, if Las Vegas is occupied territory by the time baseball advances its growth, Nashville is next on the list of desirable locations. With the land suitable to withhold a stadium’s development, and a growing community within the city and neighboring suburbs, Tennessee could lay claim to the 31st or 32nd MLB franchise.

Rob Manfred’s Plan For Growth Exceeds Expansion

In addition to adding two more franchises, the interview also covers the commissioner’s hope for automated strikezones. That wish could come to fruition as early as 2024. Through testing in MiLB games, the vision is certainly feasible. However, it’s the umpiring union that sits in the way of the drastic alteration.

Manfred takes a lot of the heat from the 99-day lockout. Some is absolutely deserving criticism of the league’s handling of the matter. But the hour-long interview goes a long way in showing Manfred’s deeply-rooted passion for the game we love. No, Rob Manfred does not hate baseball. But it’s not easy to change something that’s been mostly consistent since 1876.