As first reported by Buster Olney from ESPN, the MLB and the player's association are currently exploring realignment options:
MLB is considering a proposal that would have 15 teams in the American League and 15 clubs in the National League, as opposed to the present format of 16 teams in the NL and 14 in the AL. Under the possible plan, the leagues would not be split into divisions. The top three teams would make the playoffs. The fourth- and fifth-place clubs would be wild cards and play for one spot. (Via ESPN.com)
Who is the most likely candidate to move from the NL to the AL? Most believe the Houston Astros would make the move because they are a part of the six-team AL Central division. Moreover, a move to the AL would create a rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.
The current system in place makes it easier for an AL West team to make the playoffs than an NL Central team. While the Seattle Mariners have a 1 in 4 chance of making the playoffs, an NL Central team like the Houston Astros only have a 1 in 6 chance of making the playoffs.
Two leagues without divisions would make it fairer and easier for teams like the Balitmore Orioles to compete who have to battle with big money teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the current system.
However, there are some drawbacks to this plan. Scheduling would become difficult with 15 being an odd number of teams in both leagues. This means interleague play would be required throughout the season.
There is talk about realignment taking place as soon as 2012, although sources have told ESPN reporter Tim Kurkjian that it is unlikely to happen.