ESPN’s Marly Rivera reports that the MLBPA has agreed to a league proposal for expanded playoffs after the 2020 60-game regular season. The owners must ratify the agreement to make it official. [Update: They did.] This comes just hours before the regular season is set to begin with the Yankees and Nationals doing battle in the nation’s capital.
Jon Heyman initially reported on Wednesday evening that the playoffs could be expanded from10 total teams to 16. The two sides were unable to come to an agreement to replace the temporary March agreement, which could have included expanded playoffs. Commissioner Rob Manfred instead invoked a 60-game season on behalf of the owners, which initially left the playoff structure unchanged.
The owners want expanded playoffs because they will make most of their money this year from postseason TV revenue. There will be no ticket or concession revenues as games will not be played in front of fans. If the union is to agree to expanded playoffs, the owners would likely have to be generous in sharing their profits. Exactly how much of the pie they’ll have to give up remains to be seen.
Per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, there will be best-of-three matchups in the first round. ESPN’s Buster Olney adds that all first- and second-place teams in each division would qualify while the remaining two Wild Cards in each league would be determined by the best records among the remaining teams.
This is the first time MLB’s playoff format has changed since moving from one Wild Card team in each league to two in 2012. It is likely this change is for 2020 only, but we have seen in the past changes intended to become temporary instead become permanent.