Foreign Expansion Coming To MLB, Says Commissioner Rob Manfred

In a meeting with the Associated Press last night, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the MLB will undergo an expansion from 30 to 32 teams at some point in the near future, and the prospective locations of the teams-to-be, reports The Daily News, are not what you might expect.

"I have said publicly that I think baseball's a growth sport, a growth business, and sooner or later growth businesses expand," Manfred said, referring to the multiple times in the past he has come out in support for a future MLB expansion.

For example, Manfred told The Hollywood Reporter last October that the MLB is very interested in an expansion into Mexico.

"We are really interested in Mexico. It's a huge broadcast market. If we can find the right location, it is possible to support a team in Mexico economically," Manfred explained.

"And an increased flow of Mexican players into the big leagues combined with a team in Mexico would help us with the Hispanic market in the U.S."
MLB Expansion Coming, Says Commissioner
Baseball is hugely popular in Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and most parts of Latin America. [Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]He said at the time that Cuba and, even more so Canada, are also options for expansion teams, and he reiterated the sentiment of wanting the coming expansion to cross US borders during yesterday's interview.
"If we were to expand, I do think a city that makes sense geographically — meaning in terms of realistic travel distances and is outside of the 48 contiguous states – would be a positive choice for us in terms of growing the game."
So, what city's residents have the best chance of one of the expansion's two added teams coming to their town? Sporting News speculates that San Juan, Havana, Mexico City, and Vancouver are near the top of the list.
Manfred insisted during yesterday's meeting that he was not trying to drop clues as to specific cities for the coming expansion with his "outside the contiguous United states" remark, but then he went back on his words by noting that he really wants to bring an expansion team back to Toronto after they lost the Expos in 2004.

"It was not a veiled reference to any particular city," he said.

"I think, even if I didn't want to say this, the mayor of Montreal would probably tell you, if you walked past him on the street, that I have met with him on a number of occasions. They have expressed a strong desire to have Major League Baseball back in Montreal. That's a good thing. People want baseball. I think that's a real positive. In addition to Montreal, there are other locations that clearly would be on the list."
Sporting News points out that Toronto makes a strong case for the location of a coming expansion team for several other reasons as well, including the fact that it has had huge crowds coming out for the exhibition games held there the past two years and the fact that every city that has lost an MLB team in the past 100 years -- Baltimore, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Seattle, and Washington -- has gotten a team back via expansion.
While the prospect of an MLB expansion is clearly exciting to a lot of fans, Manfred stressed that it will not be coming for at least a few years.

"I do see expansion as a longer-term proposition," he said.

"I think there are certain issues in the game that need to be resolved first — the stadium situations in Tampa and Oakland being at the top of that list. In the longer term, there will be expansion."
When the coming MLB expansion finally does happen, though, what cities can you see the new teams coming to? And what should the expansion teams be called?

[Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images]