Even though the 2020 MLB season is still, the league is beginning to establish a theoretical framework for a return to action and an idea of what the abbreviated season might look like.
On that front, Jon Heyman on Friday tweeted out a series of scoops regarding the structure of the 2020 season that's beginning take shape. Most notably, Heyman tweets that MLB is considering expanding the playoff field from 10 teams to 14 teams for 2020. Back in February, it was reported that to the postseason format on a permanent basis, and this would perhaps serve as a more tangible trial balloon for that very thing.
Here's more from Heyman:
- At the moment, beginning the regular season in late May seems like the best possible outcome. The aim for the time being is to play a 140-game season. (Per Bob Nightengale, MLB will consider going with 29-man rosters in order to help teams handle the compressed schedule.)
- MLB may also consider starting the season in, say, spring training locales as opposed to current COVID-19 hotspots like New York City.
- While MLB hopes to avoid playing games without fans in attendance, doing so is a possible consideration should circumstances warrant.
- The MLB calendar would likely be extended on the back end, which would mean a late October start for the (expanded) playoffs. The presence of cold-weather teams in the later rounds of the postseason could of course complicate this plan.
Much, of course, depends upon the current arc of the pandemic and when social distancing measures might be eased. As well, players will need to time to ramp up once again into a state of game readiness, and at least two weeks of organized training will likely be required. That, in turn, would require the flexibility to hold group workouts and exhibition games in advance of that late May target date. Should the coronavirus not cooperate and push back that timeline, then a 140-game schedule -- already a highly ambitious aim -- probably won't be possible.
We're a long way from knowing the specifics of what the 2020 season will look like, but the realistic to semi-realistic hopes of what it could look like have taken shape. Now the big question is whether these very substantial outside forces will accommodate MLB's vision for a 2020 season that no matter what will look like something we've never before seen.