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.
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.
- Jack Harris at the LA Times talked to several MLB labor negotiators about how this current round of talks has been affected by a pandemic. Even something seemingly small, as longtime union executive Gene Orza noted: “It’s much harder to negotiate something, particularly on a complex subject, when you’re not in the same room together, when you’re not taking breaks together, when you’re not caucusing near each other.”
- Craig Edwards at FanGraphs examined the owners’ 76-game proposal, concluding it’s even worse than their last one.
- If and when there is a 2020 MLB season, major league cities will need approval from local public health officials. Bradford William Davis at the New York Daily News found Sunday that so far the league and teams have not kept those local officials in the loop like they said they would.
- The New York Times surveyed 511 epidemiologists about when they expect to do certain activities again, with 64 percent saying it would be a year or more before they expect to “attend a sporting event, concert or play.”
- in the Out of the Park 2020 simulation over at Baseball Prospectus, the Dodgers have the best record in the majors at 49-16, 10½ games better than the next-best NL team (the Reds!).