Major League Baseball may look to implement a 14-team postseason field during this offseason's collective bargaining sessions, Ken Rosenthal reported Monday on The Athletic Baseball Show podcast.
The league currently operates with a 10-team postseason that features six division winners and four wild card teams. According to Rosenthal, a new system could see two more playoff spots available in both the National League and American League (comments begin at 19:00):
"Going forward, what has been discussed is a 14-team playoff, seven in each league, in which some of those things I just mentioned, home-field advantage for the division champion, penalizing the Wild Card, best overall record gets the edge, that will all be taken care of."
In 2020, as the pandemic forced the league to make significant adjustments in order to save the season, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred instituted a 16-team playoff bracket to help balance out a 60-game regular season.
The first round saw teams play best-of-three series, followed by a best-of-five series in the Division Series. The traditional seven-game series remained for the Championship Series and World Series.
The changes did add a bit more drama as two Wild Card Series required a decisive third game—the Oakland Athletics advanced past the Chicago White Sox in the AL, while the San Diego Padres eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL—however both the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros made the playoffs despite finishing the regular season under .500. While the Brewers bowed out in the Wild Card Series, the Astros advanced to the ALCS where the Tampa Bay Rays won in seven games.
A constant refrain from baseball purists is that expanding the postseason even further would continue to diminish the importance of the regular season. It remains to be seen how MLB would argue otherwise or if the players association would be open to such a change.
MLB and the union last altered the postseason format beginning in 2012 by adding a second wild card spot in each league. The two wild card teams would play a one-game elimination matchup to kick off the opening round of the playoffs.
"This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year," then-commissioner Bud Selig said in 2012.
Nearly a decade later, Selig's successor is looking to expand the playoff field once again.