Report: MLB Discussing 14-Team Playoffs in Coronavirus-Shortened Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred answers questions at a press conference during MLB baseball owners meetings, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Major League Baseball will reportedly consider expanding the playoffs from 10 to 14 teams if the 2020 season takes place following the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported the update Friday and noted "almost anything is on table," but he added "nothing [is] close to final" with the campaign delayed indefinitely.

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Consideration will be given to staggered start (start in some places delayed) or moved games depending on hot spots/local orders. At moment 1 obvious hot spot is NYC. As an example early games could be moved to Florida — to spring sites, Trop/Marlins Park. Everything on table.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported MLB and its Players Association reached an agreement Thursday on details related to a shortened or canceled season. Here are some notable takeaways:

  • Hopeful to restart training camps in late May with the regular season beginning in early June.
  • Addition of doubleheaders to play as many games as possible with the regular season extending into October and the playoffs into November, possibly with neutral-site postseason games.
  • Full year of service time for players, even if the season is canceled.
  • Players can't sue for full salaries if campaign is canceled, but they'll receive a $170 million advance over the next two months.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday on ESPN's SportsCenter (via Jim Reineking of USA Today) the league is "probably not gonna be able to" play all 162 games regardless of the plan.

"My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May we'll be gearing back up. We'll have to make a determination depending on what the precise date is as to how much of a preparation period we need," Manfred added. "But the one thing I know for sure is baseball will be back. Whenever it's safe to play, we'll be back. ... We will be part of the recovery, the healing in this country from this particular pandemic."

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman

Playoffs/World Series would be late October and well into November. Neutral site, warmer weather World Series is on table. May depend on whether cold-climate teams make World Series. Obvious examples would be Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago, Boston. Again, everything on table.

The structure of a potential 14-team playoff is unclear, but it would likely include the three division winners and four wild cards from both leagues. The top team in both the AL and NL would probably receive a bye in the opening round.

MLB last increased the size of the postseason field, from eight to 10, in 2012.