MLB plans to play regular-season games in Asia, England in 2019, 2020
NEW YORK» Major League Baseball plans to start the 2019 and 2020 seasons in Asia and play regular-season games in England in June both years.
The collective bargaining agreement reached in November was finalized and sent to the clubs Friday, and it contains a schedule for international play through 2021 along with how much extra money each player will receive for making the trips.
“Playing major league games abroad is critically important to growing the game internationally, and we are very pleased that the parties were able to agree on a very comprehensive international play plan in bargaining,” MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said in an email to The Associated Press.
The agreement calls for the season opener to be played in Asia in 2018 and 2020 and specifies Japan for 2019. However, plans have not progressed for a 2018 Asian opener and those games are now unlikely, according to a baseball official familiar with the planning. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no statement was authorized.
A two-game series between Cleveland and Minnesota in San Juan, Puerto Rico, already has been announced for next April 17-18, and the agreement calls for an additional series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in May 2020.
“I think it’s probably been in the works for a while for MLB to try to find out how to expand on the international and global market,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You try to market your product the best way you can into the most expansive areas you can . ... The fact we were able to pique enough interest in fan bases from parts maybe we never would have imagined a decade or two ago can only be good for the game.”
Series in Mexico are planned for each April from 2018-21 and for May 2019 and 2021.
Young fans enjoy the action during an MLB game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Sydney Cricket Ground in 2014 in Sydney, Australia.