MLB to Expand Postseason Field in 2020

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Just hours before the start of the 2020 regular season, the Major League Baseball Players Association approved an agreement with MLB to expand its postseason this year, the league announced Thursday.

The expansion will increase the postseason from 10 teams to 16 teams. 

According to ESPN, the agreement  is just for this season.

ESPN's Buster Olney reported earlier Thursday that as part of the 16-team expanded playoff proposal, the No. 1, 2, 3 seeds in each league—the Division winners—would pick their opponents among the other five teams.

According to multiple reports, the top-three in each league will go to regular season division winners. According to Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, the second place team in each division will also qualify for the postseason with the remaining two spots going to the teams with the next best records.

"We are excited to announce the expansion of the 2020 Postseason," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "This season will be a spring to a new format that will allow more fans to experience playoff baseball. We look forward to a memorable Postseason concluding a year like no other and appreciate the continued partnership and enthusiasm of ESPN and TBS."

Throughout the negotiations this spring that led to the eventual July 23 start date, the league had proposed expanding the postseason field to 16 teams, though the eventual deal called for a standard postseason format in both field size and series length.

The regular season officially gets underway Thursday evening when the defending World Series champion Nationals host the New York Yankees. Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the first pitch before the game begins at 7:08 p.m. ET.

Regarding other uncertainty ahead of the season, the Blue Jays are not permitted to play at the Rogers Centre in Toronto due to their frequent travel back and forth from the United States amid the COVID-19 crisis. The franchise explored playing home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, but Toronto was denied once again due to the team's frequent travel.

On Thursday, the Orioles gave the Blue Jays permission to hold 2020 home games at Camden Yards in Baltimore, according to the MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

The state of Maryland still needs to approve the Orioles' decision. 

MLB will also debut a 'Black Lives Matter' stencil on mounds across the league in its opening week, the Nationals announced on Wednesday.