For longer than we can even remember, MLB has wanted expanded playoffs.
They got their wish in 2020, during negotiations with the Players Association: that year, a whopping 16 teams made the playoffs, more than half of the league.
However, players don’t want to agree to expanded playoffs, since they would be playing them with virtually no financial benefits.
Under recent collective bargaining agreements (CBA), players received their pay for the regular season, but once the playoffs started, most of the financial benefits went to owners.
There is some compensation for players, but it’s not nearly the same as the regular season.
Having said that, the Players Association knows the expanded playoffs is quite a bargaining chip to have, and owners, predictably, have pushed hard for it.
Too Many Teams In The Postseason
The feeling around the league is that players will accept a 12-team postseason (the league wanted 14, but players have refused since teams wouldn’t try so hard to invest in their rosters and compete).
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there will be byes for the first two teams by record in each league.
“This is the way the 12-team playoff MLB field would likely work: Top two teams in each league get first-round byes, and the other eight teams would play a first-round best-of-three,” he wrote via Twitter.
This is the way the 12-team playoff MLB field would likely work: Top two teams in each league get first-round byes, and the other eight teams would play a first-round best-of-three.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 1, 2022
12 is actually better than having 14 or 16 teams in the playoffs, but it’s still not an ideal number.
The players, however, probably felt they had to surrender in this particular item to unlock other things, such as owners eliminating their proposal for increased competitive balance tax (CBT) penalties.
Under the proposed playoff system, teams near .500 would have a shot at making the postseason, which is far from ideal.