By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
JUPITER, Fla. -- Tony Clark recognizes the importance of expansion by Major League Baseball.
The head of the Major League Baseball Players Association fully understands that expansion would mean an extra 50 jobs, assuming two new teams may be added, when MLB owners get around to making that decision.
Of course, any expansion would undoubtedly include Montreal, whose Expos were transferred to Washington following the 2004 season.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,’’ Clark said about expansion, as he took time for a side interview with a Canadian reporter as he entered the grounds of the Miami Marlins facilities Friday.
“We’re part of the dialogue about expansion and as long as there is dialogue, Montreal is part of the consideration,’’ Clark said. “Montreal would have to be considered as part of any expansion. Montreal has had a history in baseball for years.’’
Now that the game’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place, expansion would seem the next likely step for MLB owners but Clark wasn’t aware that an owners’ move such as striking an expansion committee was imminent.
“Expansion is a process and ultimately, the players’ association isn’t part of the decision The owners will decide that on their own,’’ Clark said.
Later in a scrum with reporters following a meeting with Marlins’ players, Clark talked about the ongoing issues of stadium leases involving the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s and how those issues might ultimately involve Montreal.
“At some point, the discussions about these issues could lead to discussions about relocation of teams,’’ Clark said.
Of course, Montreal fans and prospective franchise owners such as Stephen Bronfman and Dollarama’s Rossy family love that word relocation. They would love to get their hands on the Rays.
“Like I’ve said before, Canada needs another major-league team,’’ Expos’ legend and Marlins ambassador Andre Dawson said at a picnic table outside the Miami clubhouse. “It would be nice to see some people take the initiative to address the topic and revisit things but there are so many hurdles.
“You need a new stadium and you need someone with deep, deep pockets. Montreal already has a fan base. We’ll just have to wait and see how things run their course.’’
When it was suggested to Clark that a good time for a return of baseball to Montreal would be 2019, the 50th anniversary of the first Expos’ season, he smiled.
“We’ll have to see how things work out,’’ Clark said. “As long as there is dialogue about expansion, Montreal is part of the fabric.’’