It’s the weekend, Nation Athletics!
While things are still calm as we wait for MLB and MLBPA to resume their lockdown negotiations, there are a few contingencies we can expect once play resumes. A key part of the negotiation, and something we’ve already had a glimpse of in the 2020 season, is the expansion of the playoffs.
While the odds of seeing a 16-team postseason like 2020 are slim, the major phases of lockdown negotiations we’ve seen so far have had pushes for 12 or 14 teams in the playoffs. The extra playoffs are a major boon for team owners, as they earn a ton on high-priced tickets, as well as TV and advertising revenue. MLB owners pushed hard for 14 playoff teams because it helps spread the wealth among the teams.
Thanks to the barter we’ve seen so far, players have been reluctant to agree to the playoff expansion, with a group of 12 teams seemingly given the green light before talks broke down this week. Players seem largely against expansion because the more teams that enter the playoffs, the lower the level of competition. The odds of a 107-win team like the 2021 Giants being knocked out early in the playoffs by a lucky 82-win Phillies would be high, and that’s not a favorable outcome for players if it removes the incentive to teams to try as hard.
On Friday, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the MLBPA may be considering the idea of accepting a 14-team postseason to gain traction in other areas.
Sources: As both sides seek to restart CBA talks, the union has approached MLB with an offer to reopen 14-team playoff field talks, with the idea that it can trade for more flexibility on CBT numbers and other issues.
—Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 4, 2022
As Anthony Franco of MLB Trade Rumors detailed, this possibility of momentum in negotiations could be what players need to get a number closer to what they were looking for with the competitive balance tax. Besides finances and relative talent, one of the sticking points for players against the 14-team playoffs was the postseason tournament structure. Thirty MLB teams across six divisions are not evenly split in seven-sided brackets, meaning teams that perform well over the season are likely to receive a first-round bye.
Players have been open that if they play fewer than 162 games this year, an expanded post-season isn’t planned for 2022, although it’s agreed to in the ABC for future seasons. With the first two series of the season scratched from the schedule, we shouldn’t expect any extra rounds in this year’s playoffs (if they’re even played at all), but starting next year, plans will be on the way for a few more teams to join the October Act.
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Joe Kennedy died aged 28 of a heart problem. After Kennedy’s death, Frank Thomas kept Kennedy’s glove in his locker wherever he played until his retirement. pic.twitter.com/OboC2EQZfL
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