Hours before the 2020 MLB season begins with the New York Yankees facing off against the Washington Nationals, Major League Baseball and the Players Association have come to an agreement to expand the playoffs to a 16-team format.
Marly Rivera of ESPN first reported that the playoff format would officially be expanded from 10 teams to 16 teams. The agreement, which will expire after 2020, is pending approval from the owners.
The union has approved the agreement discussed with MLB for expanded playoffs, only for the 2020 postseason; that agreement is now subject only to ratification by the owners, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/HFmaEQ8Npk
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) July 23, 2020
This expanded format was agreed to just hours before the first pitch of the 2020 season. Players are expected to receive an additional $50 million in playoff bonuses by agreeing to this format. Previously payment was tied to fans being in the stands, but this new format guarantees money for the players.
After agreeing to a billion-dollar TV deal with Turner Sports earlier this year, Major League Baseball finally made the move to correspond with wanting more televised playoff baseball.
There has been speculation over what the expanded format will look like in the last 24 hours. Currently, the agreement appears to be an additional round of playoff baseball in a best-of-three style instead of the best-of-five that normally begins the MLB playoffs.
This format will eliminate the Wild Card game, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, which gives teams like the Rays, Athletics and Brewers more of a chance to succeed in the playoffs than they have had in Wild Card games in recent years.
After a long round of negotiations to allow baseball to be played this year, a sudden showing of bi-partisan efforts by the players and the owners appears to allow for more October baseball in 2020.