The Atlanta Braves are World Series champions and now baseball is in the middle of its first work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike. MLB and the MLBPA were unable to agree to a new collective bargaining agreement prior to the Dec. 1 deadline, so the owners locked out the players, and the hot stove has been put on hold for the foreseeable future.
Throughout the offseason the CBS Sports MLB experts will bring you a weekly Batting Around roundtable breaking down pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated the Hall of Fame candidacy of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. This week we're going to try to predict the future of the Athletics and Rays.
Where will the A's and Rays play in the future?
R.J. Anderson: Only one MLB team has relocated across state (or country) lines in the past half-century. I suppose you could view that fact as a sign that we're due for another; I tend to view it as a sign that MLB's relocation threats are largely empty. (I mean, heck, the A's president is running the same basic and boring "I love Las Vegas!" playbook that the Pittsburgh Penguins did more than a decade ago.) As such, I think we'll see both teams find a stadium somewhere in their current states, even if they aren't necessarily in the same neighborhood as they are now. The Rays, especially, would seem like a candidate to ditch St. Petersburg for Tampa proper.
Matt Snyder: I'll get nuts and say both move. The A's have just been through so much back and forth with the city and county there while also seeming determined to not spend much of their own money. They'll eventually reach the point of the impasse where it's time to pack it up and leave. When they do, it won't be Vegas that makes the most sense. I don't think baseball is as viable there as the NFL and NHL. No, instead it's going to be Portland, Oregon. There's a contingent of regional fans there that would embrace the club and a nice regional rivalry in the AL West with the Mariners could be cultivated. Portland already has plans in place, too, in the Portland Diamond Project. On the Rays, thankfully MLB shut down the absolutely dreadful concept of playing seasons split between St. Pete and Montreal. I agree with R.J. that the most likely outcome is in Tampa, but I'll go a little further inland to Orlando.
Dayn Perry: I'm going to opt for the path of least resistance here. I'll say both teams stay in the same region. The A's will get a Howard Terminal ballpark that's largely funded, and the Rays will do the same in nearby Tampa. That's unfortunate, as sports franchises should be paying for their own places of business instead of relying on corporate welfare. Too many people in power don't seem to agree.
Mike Axisa: The A's go to Las Vegas and the Rays move across the bay to Tampa proper, allowing them to draw from Orlando. This is nothing more than a guess. The A's still have a lot of hurdles to overcome with the Howard Terminal project and I think they're going to run out of time. Their lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires after 2024, so they have to get this wrapped up fairly soon (as in at some point in 2022) so they can plan and actually build their new ballpark. As for the Rays, I think there's enough motivation on their part and the city's part to keep the team in Tampa. Or, more accurately, bring the team to Tampa. They have more time than the A's to figure this out (their lease at Tropicana Field doesn't expire until after 2027), so it might be another few years until we get word on their next home.