Without playing a game, the Cubs' and White Sox' playoff chances may increase within the next 24 hours.
MLB insider Jon Heyman reported Wednesday the league and players union have reengaged negotiations to expand the postseason this year.
Sources: MLB and union are re-engaging on the possibility of expanded playoffs for this season. Has to be done before first pitch 25 hours from now, but there seems to be optimism. Hope was to go from 10 playoff teams to 16.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 22, 2020
Playoff expansion was discussed in MLB’s return-to-play negotiations but never came to fruition as the two sides didn’t come to terms for a 2020 season. Those discussions entailed adding six teams to the playoff format in the abbreviated, 60-game season, for a total of eight in each league.
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Expanding the playoff field would benefit both the Cubs and White Sox. The NL Central is wide open this year, with the Reds, Cubs, Brewers and Cardinals all contending for a spot in October. The NL East also has four playoff hopefuls in the Nationals, Braves, Phillies and Mets, while the NL West has the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and potentially the up-and-coming Padres as contenders.
The White Sox are poised to compete for a playoff spot, along with the Twins and Indians. The Yankees, Rays, Astros and A’s are contenders, and expanded playoffs could benefit the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels and Rangers.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported in June what the playoff field would look like in an expansion plan:
As part of this proposal, MLB asked for 16 teams to make playoffs (8 in each league). The plan calls for 1 to play 8, 2 to play 7, etc. In best-of-3 first round. Right now 5 teams make it in each league. Initial proposal asked for 7.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) June 8, 2020
Here's what a 16-team playoff field would have looked like in 2019 (* for division winners):
7. Red Sox
An agreement has to be made before tomorrow night, as the Yankees and Nationals kick off the season at 6:08 p.m. CT.