As the MLB lockout enters its third full week, the expectation remains the league and Players Association will not engage in collective bargaining agreement negotiations until some time in January 2022.
The two sides reportedly met last week — their first time doing so since team owners imposed a lockout — but discussions did not center around key issues, including free agency and competitive balance tax structure.
Other focal points have been potentially expanding the MLB postseason field, maintaining competitiveness throughout the sport, and possibly implementing a universal designated hitter rule.
Ownership has been in favor of allowing more teams to qualify for the playoffs, and it appears the MLBPA are open to that as well, though only expanding to 12, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:
Both sides have proposed expanding the playoffs, owners from 10 teams to 14 and players to 12, which would incentivize more competition.
Amid the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, MLB and the union agreed to a 16-team postseason that introduced the first-ever Wild Card Series.
“We are excited to announce the expansion of the 2020 Postseason. This season will be a sprint to a new format that will allow more fans to experience playoff baseball,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said at the time.
“We look forward to a memorable Postseason concluding a year like no other and appreciate the continued partnership and enthusiasm of ESPN and TBS.”
Manfred later touted the 2020 postseason as a success and said he anticipated it being in place moving forward, but did concede that 16 teams playing October baseball was too many.
A long-held perception has been the MLBPA would leverage the league’s desire to implement a universal DH so as to create more jobs for players.
Potential expanded MLB postseason format
One of the final proposals from team owners before the lockout began reportedly included a structure for an expanded MLB postseason of 14 teams.
Among the details were the teams with the best record in each league would receive a bye into the Division Series, and remaining division winners would pick their Wild Card Game opponent from the bottom three teams.
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