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MLB realignment into Cactus, Grapefruit Leagues reportedly discussed

Latest reported discussion involves MLB teams playing at their spring training sites in 2020

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MLB Considers Arizona Minor League Stadiums For Possible 2020 Season Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

No Major League Baseball will happen until it’s healthy enough for everyone involved — players, coaches, umpires, team personnel, stadium workers, media, and scores of others. But if a 2020 season is to be salvaged, it will be different than any other year in baseball history.

The parties involved, it seems, are willing to try just about anything to make it work, if proposals are to be believed.

The latest comes from Bob Nightengale at USA Today, who reported Major League Baseball and the players union have discussed an option that would realign teams based on their spring training sites:

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 COVID-19 pandemic.

Before we delve into the details of this plan, which again is just in the discussion phase, I want to point out one of my favorite features of all these MLB jumbles is how prevalent one word is in describing the talks between MLB and the union. See if you can match the writer with the excerpt (emphasis mine):

  • A: “Major League Baseball, assessing myriad proposals”
  • B: “But before baseball effectively could proceed under quarantine, it would need to overcome myriad hurdles”
  • C: “securing robust coronavirus testing, lodging, security, transportation and myriad other matters”

The crux of Nightengale’s report is the massive realignment, with 15 teams in Arizona and 15 in Florida. Each league would be split into three divisions. The Dodgers, in one realignment structure, would be in the Cactus League West along with the White Sox, Reds, Indians, and Angels. That features two facilities that house multiple teams in Glendale and Goodyear, plus Tempe for the Angels.

Nightengale also noted that the designated hitter “would likely be universally implemented as well,” because why not? This season is going to be a weird one anyway. The Bruce Wayne strategy:

Why such extremes are being discussed is a matter of money, in a sport which generated a reported $10.7 billion in revenue in 2019, per Forbes. Whatever allows games to be played, and as many as possible, is on the table, because that’s more games that can be televised, which keeps it least the TV revenue coming in, or at least a large chunk of it.

Plus, think of all the “Cactus League pennant” and “Grapefruit League champions” memorabilia the league can sell. I doubt it would make up for the lost revenue from having fans in the stands, but they’re throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks.

Again, nothing would happen until games can be safe for all the parties involved. Better to go though every possible option now, even the most extreme, to settle on some structure once the 2020 switch gets turned back on, if it even does.