What Rays Players Think of Reported Tampa Bay-Montreal Split Proposal

OAKLAND -- The entire baseball world is talking about Thursday's bombshell report that the Rays are exploring the possibility of splitting home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal.

The plan is still in the very early stages and wouldn't be a possibility until the Rays' current lease at Tropicana Field runs out in 2027. The franchise has spent the last decade unsuccessfully attempting to get a new stadium built in the Tampa Bay area.

With the Rays are in Oakland this weekend for a four-game series against the A's, Tampa Bay's current players were just as surprised by Thursday's news as everyone else.

Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier learned of the report via text message: "I had to read it a couple of times, where I'm like, 'What?' And then next thing you see the headlines and everyone's heads are blowing off right now. It's different. You hear about many different headlines in baseball. This is definitely one that I don't know if it's ever happened before, just with the proposed plan, I guess you could say. We'll just have to wait back and see what comes about it."

Former A's infielder Joey Wendle, now with the Rays, hasn't had much time to process the report. But, he did note some potential issues from a player's standpoint.

"It's certainly a new concept," Wendle told NBC Sports California. "I've never heard of anything quite like that proposed before. I think there would probably be some challenges logistically, in terms of how we get places where we live. A lot of us have families with children, so that adds a whole 'nother level of difficulty. It's not a decision that's going to come down to me, ultimately. But it's definitely an interesting proposition."

Rays reliever Emilio Pagán, another former Athletic, also struggled to digest what this type of plan would mean for players.

"I honestly have no idea," he said. "I love being in Tampa. I don't know how soon it could possibly happen. I haven't even really thought about it much -- because the news came out today -- as to what the challenges would be. I'm sure it would be tough. But I'm sure also that the people making those decisions have thought about those tough decisions that would have to come. That's way above my pay grade. I'll worry about trying to get as many outs as I can."

Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg released the following statement on Thursday: "My priority remains the same, I am committed to keeping baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come. I believe this concept is worthy of serious exploration."

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The idea of two cities sharing a professional sports team actually isn't entirely new. In 2003, the Montreal Expos played 22 home games in Puerto Rico. In the NBA, Omaha and Kansas City shared the Kings from 1972-75.

"It's crazy to think about," Kiermaier said. "If it happens, it does. People adjust. They always will."

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