Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are in the midst of some eleventh-hour negotiations about expanding the playoffs for the 2020 season, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets. An agreement would need to be in place before the first pitch of tomorrow’s Nationals/Yankees season opener. It’s not clear exactly when the two sides resumed their talks on an expanded postseason, which was a focal point of their failed negotiations in May and June, but Heyman suggests that there is “optimism” on both sides that an agreement will be reached.
During this summer’s return-to-play negotiations, which did not result in a deal (leading commissioner Rob Manfred to implement a 60-game season under their March arrangement), the league sought to expand the postseason format from 10 to 16 teams. The initial hope was for the change to take effect for both 2020 and 2021, but doing so would’ve required an agreement to be bargained with the players’ union. When that didn’t happen, the postseason status quo of 10 teams remained in place.
Since the 60-game season was implemented, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark has expressed a willingness to resume talks with Manfred’s office should the league push for renewed talks. Exactly what concessions the league is willing to make for the players remains unclear in this newly rebooted set of talks. But given the potential for upwards of $300MM in additional television revenue under an expanded postseason format, it’s hardly a surprise that MLB is seeking one last go at hammering out an agreement.