Over the course of the seemingly never-ending MLB lockout one thing was clear: the owners were not walking away without securing expanded playoffs. It appears they've gotten that concession from the players, but not to the degree they were hoping.
Late Monday night it emerged that the two sides had agreed to postseason expansion. The owners were hoping for a 14-team field, but it appears they have settled on 12 teams making the playoffs. Logically, that would mean one Wild Card team would be added to each league. The specific terms have not been made public.
The format is likely to involve the six division winners, plus six Wild Card teams. It's likely the sixth seed will face the third seed, while the fourth and fifth seeds would match up. That would give the top two seeds a bye into the Divisional Round. There's no word on if those Wild Card matchups will be each be one game or possibly best-of-three series. Some of the proposals have suggested each would be a best-of-three series with the higher seed hosting all the games with no days off.
This was inevitably going to happen, I'm just shocked the owners didn't get the 14-team format they were looking for. The players union has played hardball throughout these negotiations and has been against expanding too much. The players want a smaller field because if there were fewer postseason spots it would theoretically force teams to be more aggressive in free agency and at the trade deadline to improve their rosters.
Rob Manfred and his cohorts have extracted that concession from the players, but they'll have to give something up to get it. The two sides have been moving closer together throughout Monday night and may actually be inching towards a deal after a disastrous last few months.
I don't really see a downside to a 12-team playoff. I get why the players stood against it, but it would leave more teams in the hunt later in the season. That means more fan interest down the stretch and almost certainly a more active trade deadline as more teams can be put into the "contender" category. This could, ultimately, be a great thing for the game.
Now if only they could complete the rest of the damn CBA and start spring training already.