Braves land in Southeast Division in The Athletic’s hypothetical MLB expansion

Daniel young Braves

The MLB is experimenting with a bevy of new rules in the 2023 season, including larger bases and a pitch clock. The league is also implementing new scheduling elements that will result in every club playing each other. However, a monumental change is on the horizon — MLB expansion.

For 25 years, there have been 30 teams in six different divisions, but that is likely coming to end. Jim Bowden of The Athletic reported that Rob Manfred and the owners want to expand to 32 teams but will have to resolve the Rays’ and A’s respective stadium issues first.

Once expansion comes, realignment of the divisions will inevitably follow. Bowden stated that Manfred hadn’t revealed which cities could be candidates for the two new clubs, but Nashville, Charlotte, Portland, Las Vegas, Montreal, and Vancouver were mentioned as potential locations.

In an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in 2018, Manfred stated that “a more geography-based alignment” would be one of the benefits of an expansion. Here is what a potential league with 32 teams would look like to Bowden:

Eastern Conference

East Division

Boston Red Sox
New York Mets
New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies

North Division

Cincinnati Reds
Cleveland Guardians
Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays

Mid-Atlantic Division

Baltimore Orioles
Charlotte expansion team
Pittsburgh Pirates
Washington Nationals

Southeast Division

Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins
Nashville expansion team
Tampa Bay Rays

Western Conference

Midwest Division

Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins

Southwest Division

Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
St. Louis Cardinals
Texas Rangers

Pacific Coast Division

Colorado Rockies
Oakland/Las Vegas A’s
Seattle Mariners
San Francisco Giants

West Division

Arizona Diamondbacks
Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres

The Braves have been in the NL East since 1994 and the NL West before that for 25 years. In Atlanta’s new division, the team will face interdivisional opponents in Miami, Nashville, and Tampa Bay.

It’s an interesting concept, but it would be completely foreign to me, as I’ve only known of an NL East Atlanta Braves team. Older fans of Braves Country probably remember when they moved divisions or even when it was just the National League, though.

It would be such a shame if the Braves couldn’t face the Mets and Phillies as regularly as they presently do. Those respective rivalries have recently gained a ton of steam with all three clubs primed to compete for a World Series. I’m not against expansion, but the by-product of potentially re-aligning the divisions would be a downside.

If there were a silver lining, Braves fans might be much more inclined to travel to Nashville and Tampa Bay instead of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. This is all just a fun experiment, but expansion is right around the corner, so be prepared.

What are your thoughts on the potential MLB expansion?

Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire

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