MLB close to deal for Red Sox-Yankees series in London

Major League Baseball (MLB) is closing in on a deal to stage a two-game regular season series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at London Stadium next year, according to multiple reports.

The news was first reported by the Bloomberg news agency, with the Associated Press stating that MLB’s first regular-season games in Europe are provisionally scheduled for June 29-30, 2019. The AP, citing a person familiar with the planning, said the Red Sox hold an option to designate both games as ‘home’ matches.

MLB has long harboured hopes of staging games in London and hosted a Home Run Derby event in the capital’s Hyde Park last year to tie in with US Independence Day. The former Olympic Stadium, which is now the home of English Premier League football club West Ham United, has been selected as the venue due to its wider dimensions being able to better accommodate a baseball field.

The AP said MLB chose the June window because it follows the Premier League season and comes before the stadium must be made available for track and field events, adding that an announcement is expected within the next two months.

“This is something the two clubs have discussed for years with MLB and hopefully it will become a reality,” Red Sox owner John Henry said.

MLB had been aiming to commence its 2019 and 2020 seasons in Asia and stage regular-season games in England in June of both years, after further details were revealed of the North American competition’s international plans in July.

MLB’s international strategy was first disclosed in November 2016 when a five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which will run through the 2021 season, was unveiled just hours before the expiration of the previous contract.

The CBA had called for the season opener to be played in Asia in 2018 and 2020, specifying Japan for 2019. While the 2018 ambition has not been realised, the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to face off in a two-game regular-season series on April 17-18, while regular season games are also scheduled this year for Monterrey, Mexico.

The CBA calls for an additional series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic in May 2020. The masterplan also outlines April series in Mexico from 2018 to 2021 and for May 2019 and 2021.

The CBA also outlines that players will receive an extra $60,000 (€48,700) each for regular-season visits to Asia or England, and an additional $15,000 for trips to Mexico, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.