Report: MLB likely to add Wild Card, implement one-game playoff

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The MLB playoff system is about to get an overhaul.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that with negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement moving at a fast pace, the two sides have “all but agreed” to add one Wild Card team in each league.

Under this scenario, one-game playoffs will be held to determine which Wild Card team advances to the next round. The changes could be instituted as soon as next season, as the two sides hope to announce a new CBA during the World Series, but the new system will begin no later than 2013.

The big hang up with the new CBA is disagreement over how to handle the draft, especially in regard to slotting. MLB also wants to have two 15-team leagues, something that is tied up because of the sale of the Astros, who are the most likely team to move to the American League.

What’s the motivation with expanded playoffs? Well, we’re going to hear plenty about fairness and the importance of winning your division, but this is — no surprise — mostly about cash.

Management has been interested in going from eight to 10 playoff teams to create more contenders in September and to add inventory to sell to a TV network.

The TV networks generally have been uninterested in the other wild-card option — a best-of-three series — instead wanting the drama and ratings potential of a sudden-death game.

By the way, if these changes were instituted right now, the Cardinals would have a two-game lead over the Giants for the final Wild Card spot while the Rays would hold a one-game lead over the Angels.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.