Report: MLB proposes 14-team playoffs in which higher seeds choose their opponents


(Audacy) While a lockout is looming Wednesday due to the impending expiration of MLB's collective bargaining agreement, new information has emerged about the negotiations surrounding the new CBA before we enter an indefinite standoff.

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One proposed tweak to the CBA comes from the league's side of the equation, as it has proposed a 14-team playoff format, Jesse Rogers of ESPN reported Monday. Seven teams from each league would make the playoffs, which is a significant increase from the current 10-team playoff structure that awards berths to three division winners and two wild-card teams in each league. In the 14-team proposal, there would be three division winners and twice as many wild-card teams that enter the postseason fold, which in 2021 would've meant that the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners would have snuck into the playoffs in the American League while the Reds and Phillies would joined in the National League.

On top of the extra four teams in the mix, MLB proposed that higher seeds will have another advantage, ESPN reported. Each league's team with the best record will have a bye into the best-of-five division series. Under the proposal, the other two division winners in each league, in order of record, would then choose who their opponent would be among the bottom three wild cards, ESPN reported. After that, the wild-card team with the best record in each league would match up against the remaining wild-card team that wasn't chosen as a division winner's opponent. The higher-seeded team would then host every game of a best-of-three wild-card round.

It's an interesting twist, but it apparently isn't resonating with everyone across MLB. Players are concerned that the expanded playoff format "could de-incentivize teams from spending and/or pushing for more wins knowing they might make the postseason with, say, 80 to 83 victories" or fewer, ESPN reported.

Meanwhile, MLB believes it "will keep teams aggressive both in the winter and during the season," especially given the incentives for division winners, ESPN reported.

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Another addition to the CBA talks is an "NBA-style lottery system" that would be used for the draft, ESPN reported, which MLB sees as a way to "at least partly address" concerns of tanking. In this proposed system, any non-playoff team would have a chance at the No. 1 overall pick, as is the case with the NBA Draft. Odds decrease the better the teams' records are. However, the lottery would only be for picks No. 1 to No. 3 before the draft continued as usual.

The current CBA expires Wednesday, and no one is expecting a resolution by then.

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