MLB plans to play reg­u­lar-sea­son games in Asia, Eng­land in 2019, 2020

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ron­ald Blum

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.

Matt King, Getty Im­ages file

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.

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