Looking at the Astros' future in a proposed geographic realignment
An impending expansion is the worst-kept secret in the MLB. For 25 seasons, the league has operated with 30 franchises. Sometime in the near future, that will be changing, with Nashville, Charlotte, Portland, Las Vegas, Montreal and Vancouver all rumored as potential expansion cities.
With the looming expansion, Jim Bowden of The Athletic proposed a geographic realignment, shifting from the six current divisions to eight, with both an Eastern and Western Conference. In Bowden’s proposed realignment, some divisions would be filled with titans.
The East division would include the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. That division would be a rock fight to the finish line.
Under Bowden’s proposition, the Astros would find themselves in the Western Conference/Southwest Division. Joining Houston would be the Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.
Of course, the Cardinals are a former division foe, having shared the NL Central with Houston from 1994 to 2012, when the Astros joined the American League. They’ve shared the AL West with the current and proposed division rival Texas Rangers since 2013. Houston has never shared a division with the Kansas City Royals.
Geographic realignment would lead to some rather lopsided and top-heavy divisions. The Southwest Division would be one. At present, the Astros would be the top of the division, with the Cardinals close behind. Texas would be the third-best team in the division, with Kansas City a distant fourth.
Looking ahead to the future, the Rangers and Cardinals both have reinforcements coming with their top-10 farm systems, while Houston and Kansas are consensus bottom-tier farm systems.
The Astros have plenty of young talent under team control with Dana Brown likely revamping the minors in the near future with his drafting expertise.
If and when expansion happens, a geographic realignment of sorts like this could be beneficial for the Astros title contention window. Seattle will only continue to get better in the near future. Getting away from the Mariners could be a big positive. The Cardinals would likely provide a consistent challenge year-to-year, but Kansas City and Texas haven't shown a consistent ability to build a contender. It's very likely the Southwest would be a two-horse race each year.
What are your thoughts on a proposed realignment and how the Astros would be impacted?