Don't count Evan Longoria among the die-hard fans of MLB's reported playoff expansion plans.
The New York Post reported last week that the American and National Leagues each could have seven playoff teams as soon as 2022, allowing the division winner with the second-best record in both leagues to pick from the three wild-card teams as an initial opponent. Longoria isn't opposed to more teams making the postseason, but he wants to ensure such a change would make more teams try to compete.
"It doesn't really grab me," Longoria told KNBR's Mark Willard on "The Hot Stove Show" on Monday. "I've never thought that more playoff teams is a bad thing, but I've read [some players' criticism and] I still think the baseball season is set up in such a way that the best teams make the playoffs. [There's] so many games that teams that are not good, they don't last. You saw with [the Washington Nationals] last year. They were not good in the beginning and figured out a way. ... So, I don't think that more playoff teams is a bad thing, I just think that we need to obviously incentivize teams to continue to spend money and bring on veteran players and let the best players play, and not have teams that are just losing on purpose and trying to get draft picks."
Longoria is right to be concerned. Four teams lost at least 100 games last season, matching an MLB record. Under the reported format, teams with 86, 85 and 84 wins, respectively, would've made the playoffs in 2019.
This week, the Boston Red Sox officially traded superstar outfielder Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers under the guise of "payroll flexibility." When one of the richest franchises in the sport trades one of the sport's best players at a time the sport is raking in record revenue -- all in an effort to avoid tax payments that amount to a drop in the bucket -- what does that say about the rest of the sport?
As long as teams are trying to contend, Longoria's in favor of more playoff teams. He's not worried about the expanded bracket diminishing the regular season, either.
If anything, Longoria believes it should be shorter.
"I think the season's too long," Longoria told Willard. "This is gonna be my 13th season now. Do I really think that if you shortened the season 20 games that s--ttier teams are gonna be in the postseason? Excuse my language. No, 130, 140 games -- it really weeds out the bad teams. So, make spring training shorter, make the season shorter. I think all those things are good things."
MLB won't have a shorter regular season, or an expanded postseason, until 2022 at the earliest. The collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2021 season, and MLB players' vocal reactions to the reported playoff proposal indicated it could be a point of contention when the players association and MLB come to the negotiating table.
Should the changes encourage more teams to field competitive rosters, Longoria could come around on it.