ESPN's Buster Olney reports that four sources confirm that a simple form of realignment has been raised in labour talks and is being seriously considered. It would call for two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League.
Another more radical possibility is to scrap the divisions altogether and have two 15-team leagues, with the top five teams from each league making the playoffs. The Astros and Marlins are two candidates to switch to the AL.
ESPN analyst Jim Bowden, who has worked as a general manager of both the Reds and Nationals, says:
The time has come for baseball to go beyond moving just one team to a new league and to discuss a realignment plan that makes sense geographically and is in sync with the plan to expand the playoffs.Since any proposal I would like to see implemented -- four divisions of seven or eight teams each, with only four teams making the playoffs -- will never be considered, I'll say that Bowden's idea (which would also eliminate the DH!) is pretty damn good. Since realignment was discussed in the late 90s, I have always wanted the Mets in the same division with the Yankees and Red Sox.
AMERICAN CONFERENCE NATIONAL CONFERENCE Eastern Division Southeast Division Boston Red Sox Atlanta Braves New York Mets Baltimore Orioles New York Yankees Florida Marlins Philadelphia Phillies Tampa Bay Rays Toronto Blue Jays Washington Nationals Central Division Western Division Cincinnati Reds Arizona Diamondbacks Cleveland Indians Colorado Rockies Detroit Tigers Houston Astros Minnesota Twins Seattle Mariners Pittsburgh Pirates Texas Rangers Midwest Division California Division Chicago Cubs Los Angeles Angels Chicago White Sox Los Angeles Dodgers Kansas City Royals Oakland Athletics Milwaukee Brewers San Diego Padres St. Louis Cardinals San Francisco GiantsBowden's plan would increase the number of playoff teams from eight to 12 (the three division winners and the three teams with the next-best records, playing in a 1-6, 2-5, 3-4 format). He would also shorten spring training and start the season around March 24.