MLB has decided that this season isn’t quite strange enough yet. Just hours before the first pitch is thrown in the Yankees vs Nationals game, the playoff format is changing. And it’s changing VERY drastically.
The league came to an agreement with the player’s union on Thursday afternoon to make the change. The agreement has to go through ownership today, though they are also expected to ratify the new format. MLB will now have 16 teams in the playoffs just for the 2020 season.
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
As part of the agreement with MLB, the players are also reportedly getting $50 million in exchange for the expanded playoff format. This year is also supposed to be a straight seeding in the first round rather than he rumored pick your opponent format. MLB wants to install that plan at some point in the future for baseball.
MLB playoffs have been set at ten teams since the additional Wild Card spot was added in. The expansion to 16 teams makes it so that half of the teams in baseball will make their way into October.
Rather than a sudden-death Wild Card round, there is supposed to also be a best-of-three first-round series in the first round of playoffs. Part of the deal also states that all three games in that first round will be played at the home of the higher-seeded team.
So however you feel about the change in playoff format for MLB, it’s coming this year. Owners will ratify before the first pitch between the Yankees and Nationals at 4:08 pm pacific time.
Interestingly enough, this does make it more difficult for teams to decide whether they are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Teams must make that distinction by August 31st, just five weeks into the MLB season.
UPDATE: The owners have ratified the deal. The top two teams in each division will make the playoffs followed by the next two best records in each league.