MLB

MLB considering playoff expansion where top seeds pick initial opponent: reports

Major League Baseball is considering expanding the playoffs to nearly half the 30 teams and allowing higher-seeded wild-card teams to choose opponents.

Post-season would grow to 7 teams per league in time for 2022 season

The Washington Nationals celebrate winning the 2019 World Series. On Monday, reports surfaced that MLB is considering an expanded playoff format for the 2022 season. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Major League Baseball is considering expanding the playoffs to nearly half the 30 teams and allowing higher-seeded wild-card teams to choose opponents.

The playoffs would grow from 10 clubs to 14 under the plan, first reported Monday by the New York Post. There would be four wild cards in each league, up from two.

Details were confirmed by a person familiar with the proposal who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because MLB did not authorize any public comments. Another person, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said MLB has been looking at several plans.

Any proposal would have to be negotiated with the players' association. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2021 season.

"Expanding the playoffs in a sensible way is something worth discussing when part of a much more comprehensive conversation about the current state of our game," union head Tony Clark said in a statement.

Selection show on TV

Only the division winner with the best regular-season record would advance directly to the Division Series under the plan. The two other division winners and wild-card teams would start in a best-of-three round.

The division winner with the second-best record would choose its opponent from among the three lowest-seeded wild-card teams. The division winner with the third-best record would then get to pick from among the remaining two wild cards. The top wild card would face whichever team is left over after the division winners make their choices.

The selections would be made on a televised show.

MLB long restricted its post-season to just the pennant winners facing each other in the World Series. Postseason teams doubled to four with the split of each league into two divisions in 1969, then to eight with the realignment to three divisions and the addition of a wild card in 1995, a year later than planned due to a players' strike.

The post-season reached its current 10 with the addition of a second wild card and a wild-card round in 2012.

A post-season of 14 teams would mean 47 per cent of franchises reach the playoffs, which could cause some clubs not to go into rebuilding mode. The players' association has criticized teams for what it calls "tanking."

Twelve of the 32 NFL teams (38 and 16 of 31 in the NHL (52 per cent), which expands to 32 franchises next season.

Expanded playoffs would create more content for broadcasters. MLB's contracts with ESPN and Turner run through 2021 and its deal with Fox goes through 2028.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.