MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was in Mexico this week to meet with baseball officials there, and it appears the addition of an MLB team south of the border is a possibility. If MLB were to expand, it could consider expanding into Mexico, Manfred tells Maury Brown of Forbes. “We see Mexico as an opportunity internationally,” says Manfred. “We also think a team in Mexico and a larger number of Mexican players in the big leagues could really help us continue to grow the Hispanic market in the United States.”
Expansion into Mexico is not likely to happen immediately, however, Manfred tells MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Manfred says he would like to start by having exhibition and Spring Training games in Mexico. (He toured a new stadium in Culiacan this week and says he’s excited to have exhibition games there.) MLB would then progress to having occasional regular-season games in Mexico before settling on a location for a full-time MLB team. In the meantime, MLB will open an office in Mexico City next year. “The prospects of having a Major League team here in Mexico are realistic. The difficult issue is the time frame,” Manfred says.
In his interview with Brown, Manfred also notes that MLB could add a team or teams in the US, and that Montreal is interested in having a team again. Television territories would not be a significant obstacle to expansion, Manfred says, as long as the new teams aren’t too close to existing ones. If MLB were to expand to 32 franchises, teams would continue to play 162-game schedules, but would be realigned in eight four-team divisions, Manfred says, noting that would actually make scheduling easier.
This isn’t the first time Manfred has suggested that expansion into Mexico or Canada could be a possibility. “Mexico and Canada present the most fertile ground just in terms of the level of baseball interest and the proximity to our existing franchises,” Manfred told Frederic Daigle of the Canadian Press in March. He voiced similar sentiments in an interview with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times in February. He told Daigle that he was more interested in expansion than in relocating an existing franchise, although he did not rule out the possibility of relocation.