Braves to the Central? Terry McGuirk says, ‘Not happening’

Oh, about the Braves moving to a newfangled MLB Central Division when/if baseball resumes in 2020 ...

Of such a shift, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said Thursday morning: “That is not happening. There is no possibility of that happening. It has never been discussed by Major League Baseball.”

The possible ad hoc realignment — 30 teams split into three 10-team divisions free of league affiliation to reduce travel — was reported last week by USA Today's Bob Nightengale, who wrote that it was "a concept gaining support among owners and executives." On Monday, Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal predicted how such divisions might play out, picking the Braves to run second to Minnesota in a realigned Central.

On Wednesday, this correspondent pondered the incongruity of the Braves working in a division that included Josh Donaldson, who hit 37 home runs here last season before signing with the Twins as a free agent. Seeing such speculation in his morning paper, McGuirk was moved to say: Not so fast, my friend.

Said McGuirk: “We live in the East. We play in the East. Our travel will be in the East. We’re an Eastern division team, and that’s where we’ll stay.”

McGuirk allowed that “the new schedule will probably take travel into account.” He declined to name any target dates for the resumption of spring training and opening the delayed regular season.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Thursday that MLB "expects to offer a return-to-play proposal to the Players Association within a week, as teams have begun to encourage players to prepare for a 'spring' training that could begin in mid-June and a season that could start in early July." It is generally believed that baseball is preparing to resume without fans in the stands.

As for the Braves: From 1969 through 1993, they were part — geography to the contrary — of the National League West; from 1994 on, they’ve been based in the East. McGuirk wants Braves Country to know that no relocation, however brief, to the Central is in the works. In other words, don’t sweat the Donaldson thing.