If MLB follows through on its plan to expand from 30 to 32 teams, then the former home of the Nationals’ franchise will be on the short list of cities that could be chosen for one of the new ballclubs.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has spoken numerous times about the league’s interest in expanding, most recently telling Fox Sports in 2018 that moving to 32 teams would be “great for our sport.” He went on to list six possible locations in that interview: Portland, Las Vegas, Charlotte, Nashville, Montreal, Vancouver and “places in Mexico we could go over the long haul.”
Montreal, the former home of the Expos, is the only city on the list that has already hosted an MLB team before. The league forced the sale of the Expos in 2004 and moved the club to D.C. the following year, returning baseball to the nation’s capital for the first time since 1971.
Although expansion is a topic that likely won’t be touched until the coronavirus pandemic is in the rearview mirror and negotiations for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement are at the forefront of the sport’s attention, that list still remains an important one to keep an eye on over the next few years.
USA TODAY baseball columnist Bob Nightengale joined NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas, Nick Ashooh and Chase Hughes on Wednesday’s episode of the Nationals Talk podcast and discussed who he believes the favorites are on that list to eventually host an MLB team.
“I think Nashville is emerging maybe as the No. 1 choice,” Nightengale said. “Charlotte is still in the picture, you also have Portland and obviously Montreal. Montreal means you get a new ballpark—all these places do. Charlotte is an up-and-coming city now I think they could support it. Nashville is a baseball hot bed so I like their chances. I don’t like Vegas’ chance just because…Vegas would be just too small of a city.”
If two teams are added to the league, MLB may decide to ditch the traditional six divisions in favor of eight divisions with four teams in each one—identical to the layout of the NFL. While that would likely diminish the chances of the Nationals and new Montreal team being in the same division, they still could both end up being in the NL.
The Nationals have maintained a connection with their Montreal roots, wearing throwback Expos jerseys in a July 6 game against the Kansas City Royals and identifying the placement of two additional diamonds on their World Series rings to represent the “duality of the franchise.”
However, D.C. fans have been less inclined to embrace the Expos side of the franchise’s history and there’s no guarantee that a Washington/Montreal rivalry would emerge if a team does start up there.
Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.
MORE NATIONALS NEWS: