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Are expanded playoffs the key to a deal between MLB players and owners?

Owners’ offer includes potential for 16 postseason teams in both 2020 and 2021.

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Los Angeles Dodgers v. Washington Nationals Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

While it may be frustrating to watch owners and players continually unable to come together on a 2020 season, I wonder if expanded playoffs are a potential driver for a deal.

In the players’ 114-game proposal, which was rejected by the owners, they offered to expand the postseason from 10 to 14 teams for not only 2020 but 2021 as well, provided two seasons of extra television revenue.

Monday’s owners proposal went even further, potentially up to 16 teams for each of the next two seasons. Jeff Passan at ESPN reported MLB’s proposal gives full discretion on playoff expansion to the league. Joel Sherman at the New York Post reported that, under this proposal, commissioner Rob Manfred would be able to relocate postseason games to neutral sites, a much more palatable move if there are still no fans in the stands in October.

Eight playoff teams per league would mean four rounds, though the format is still up for discussion. While we try to think of a creative name for that opening round beyond simply “first round,” there is reason to think this is something both sides want, if they can come to a deal.

From Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic:

Motivation for a negotiated settlement exists on both sides. Without an agreement, the league likely would lose the chance to stage the expanded 16-team postseason it sought as part of Monday’s proposal, and players would lose the chance to benefit from other elements of the offer.

Let’s see if that’s enough to get the players and owners closer together.