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Expanded playoffs, draft lottery in MLB’s latest CBA proposal

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World Series - Atlanta Braves v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a potential lockout just a couple of days away, officials from Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are meeting in Dallas this week in hopes of closing on a new CBA deal. ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported Monday afternoon that expanded playoffs and a draft lottery modeled after the NBA’s draft lottery are elements of the latest CBA proposal from MLB to the MLBPA.

The expanded playoffs proposal expands the playoff field to 14 teams with seven from each league. The team with the best record from each league would receive a bye during the first round, which would also feature three-game series with the higher seeded teams hosting. The second round onward would be the same as the format we’ve grown used to. The two division winners that have to play in the wild-card round would be able to choose their opponent from the wildcards, while the two un-chosen wild-cards would play each other, hosted by the team with the better record.

The bye for the best record in each league and the ability of division winners to host all three games and pick their opponent are seemingly intended to still provide some incentive for teams to aim to be better than simply “good enough to make the playoffs”, which is a mindset that could potentially depress spending, however that effect might still be present with these proposed incentives.

The draft lottery is a proposal along the lines of incentivizing teams to aim to be better in limiting the incentives for being extremely bad. Under this proposal, all non-playoff teams would be entered into a lottery for the top three picks in the draft, with the remaining picks being assigned simply by record among the remaining teams that didn’t win the lottery for a Top 3 pick. This would weaken the incentive for teams to be the absolute worst team in the league, since they would not longer be guaranteed as high of a pick. It is unclear how the lottery odds would be structured in this proposal, but the NBA works such that the worse teams get better odds at the top picks.