Commissioner Bud Selig is still spewing the partyline regarding contraction. As far as relocating franchises is concerned:
"I've said about relocation -- they'll be relocation after we've changed our economic system. Contraction is going to be take place before relocation. We will relocate teams in the future, but we need to solve out internal problems first.''
Well, that would be fine and good had they always stood behind this stance. They claim that the 1996 collective bargaining agreement was so highly flawed that they can no longer do business. Why then did they expand by two teams in 1998 (Tampa Bay and Arizona)? I know that the ludicrously high franchise fees ($135M) were enticing, but aside from the Pavlovian response that baseball owners have whenever money is mentioned, if the owners had a "system [that] is so, in my [Selig's] judgment, badly flawed, it's going to take a myriad of solutions," why add fuel to the fire?
In truth, relocating a franchise does nothing to the system as a whole. It should improve one team's situation at the expense of no other team. It could have nothing but a salubrious effect on MLB as a whole. Expansion, however, could exacerbate existing problems. So why did the majors expand in '98? Maybe, just maybe because the problems are complete fiction that were invented for the labor negotiations to promulgate the owners' position. What else makes sense?