TAMPA, Fla. — Major League Baseball looks as if it will be taking its most intense rivalry across the Atlantic.
The Yankees and Red Sox are closing in on an agreement to play a two-game series sometime in June 2019 in London, a source confirmed Monday.
Bloomberg first reported the clubs were “nearing” an agreement.
The source stressed that details for the series, which according to The Associated Press would be played June 29-30 and likely would be Red Sox home games, still are being worked out. An official announcement might not come for one or two months.
“I’ve never been [to London], so I think it would be fun,” Greg Bird said. “I think the travel would be interesting how they set that up. I would assume we’d come back and play somewhere on the East Coast, but I’ve never been. I think it would be fun.”
The respective travel schedules are among the details still being worked on, as well as those relating to presumably the teams’ top priority: security.
The series probably would take place at London Stadium, which was built as the primary facility for the 2012 Summer Olympics and currently is the home of West Ham United in the Premier League. It has a capacity for soccer of about 60,000. Wembley Stadium was an early consideration, but London Stadium can more easily be set up for baseball.
It would be the first time MLB games have been played in Europe, considered an untapped but much desired market.
“Any time you can grow our game, I think that’s a pretty cool thing,” said manager Aaron Boone, who, like Bird, never has been to London. “It’s a shorter trip than California, right?”
Pretty close. Flight time from New York to London typically is in the range of seven hours; from New York to Los Angeles is five to six hours.
Asked what he’d most like to see in London, Boone smiled. “Let’s get the Royal Family out there,” he said. “Maybe the Queen can make an appearance. That would be good.”
Previous MLB games on international soil have taken place in Mexico, Australia and Japan, where the Yankees played their opening two games against the Rays in 2004. The Cubs and Mets started the 2000 regular season at the Tokyo Dome. This season, MLB is holding regular-season games in San Juan and Monterrey, Mexico.
The Yankees’ most recent international trip came during spring training 2014. They played a two-game series against the Marlins in Panama City as a tribute to Mariano Rivera, a native of Panama.
The news was not a bombshell, as players and owners made a commitment to contest more games internationally in the collective-bargaining agreement signed in 2016.
According to The Associated Press, the CBA requires that each player receive $60,000 for participating in the games.