Despite the resumption of collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations this week, MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA) remain far apart on several key issues. One of the main sticking points on both sides is the format of an expanded post-season.
For many seasons, the MLB playoff format has featured 10 teams, including a pair of Wild Card Games featuring two teams from each league. The league and union agreed to an expanded 16-team postseason in 2020 to help offset the impact of a shortened regular season.
During nine consecutive days of CBA negotiations at Roger Dean Stadium, it emerged that a tentative agreement had been reached to follow the union’s preference for a 12-team playoff. However, with talks stalled, it was reported that the MLBPA could be opened up to 14 teams if further gains were made in regards to the luxury tax threshold and the pre-arbitration bonus pool.
According to Ronald Blum of The Associated Pressdisagreement still exists over which playoff format to advance with:
The union prefers 12 and the parties appear to be headed for that number, but Scherzer said players would consider 14 if clubs accept the ‘phantom win’ format.
“The 14-team format originally proposed by MLB provides significant benefits to division winners and incentivizes winning at all levels of the bracket,” MLB spokesman Glen Caplin said Saturday. “In an effort to compromise, MLB agreed to a 12-team format after formats were discussed, including a ‘ghost game’. MLB has made it clear that the ‘ghost game’ raises serious issues and is not a viable path.”
A significant Players’ Association concern if the playoffs were to expand to 14 teams is what it would mean for division winners. Hence their proposal including a “phantom victory”.
MLB reportedly proposed that the division winner with the best record in each league would automatically receive a bye and a berth in the Division Series.
This would leave it to the other two division winners in each league to pick their opponent and play at home throughout a best-of-three series. The division winner with the second-best record would have the first choice for an opponent from the three lowest-ranked Wild Card teams.
Playoff selections would be aired as part of a television special, which, of course, would create another source of revenue for the league. MLB is set to receive $100 million from a playoff TV rights deal with ESPN if a 14-team playoff is implemented.
That number drops to $85 million if the playoffs are 12 teams.
Rob Manfred thinks extended playoffs are good for fans and players
With the expanded playoffs remaining one of the concepts that must be understood in the new CBA, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has publicly stated that they are a benefit to players, teams and fans.
Ultimately, the whole idea of playoff expansion comes down to money. With TV revenue on the line for the league, they are doing everything they can to maximize their bottom line.
Have you got subscribed to Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date with all the Dodgers news and rumors!