Why raising luxury tax makes MLB playoff expansion pointless

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 03: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on October 3, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 03: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on October 3, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

One can make a good case for raising the luxury tax or expanding the MLB playoffs, but doing both could be a bad look for baseball.

Plenty of money is being thrown around at the negotiating table as the MLB lockout unfolds.

On one side, MLB is pushing for an expanded playoff, and all the broadcasting millions that come with it. Why the league would want such a thing is pretty self-explanatory, even if arguably shortsighted. On the other, the MLBPA is pushing for a significantly higher luxury tax. The reasoning for that, well that takes a little more explaining.

The whole argument behind adopting a luxury tax at all was to increase parity throughout the league, increasing competition and sparking fan interest. Something that would seem to be in the interest of all parties. Raising the luxury tax would empower more spending without onerous penalties, but would really only benefit the handful of teams that spend enough to worry about dealing with the tax to begin with.

In other words, particularly if the luxury tax is raised to the extent the MLBPA wants, fans are more likely to see the creation of true superteams. Consequently, once the UberDodgers and SuperAstros of the baseball world are formed, the result is going to be anything but a competitive playoff. At least not until those championship series against the New York Banks.

Which is something baseball can keep relatively under wraps when there’s only a four team divisional round to navigate before those LCSs. Expand the playoff field though…and there’s going to be a lot of ugly baseball being played. MLB clearly has visions of weekends like the one the NFL just enjoyed last week, when four out of four playoff games were decided in the final seconds. But on any given Sunday, even Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers can lose a game. However, the warts don’t hide in a series. Rob Manfred is going to have a lot of sweeps on his hands if he lowers the bar for entrance to October at the same time he raises the ceiling on what baseball’s elite can spend.

No, what MLB is going to get instead is that first weekend of the NFL playoffs, where fans were treated to a slew of blowouts. Sure, there will be the odd season where it might work out. Just this past year, an expanded American League pool could have been thrilling. Though I would raise you the same argument that has been hurled at baseball playoff expansion since the first  Wild Card was introduced after the last  MLB work stoppage- the cost of increasing the number of playoff games is often the cheapening of the last month of the regular season. Would all those AL East games have meant as much if fans knew two, or possibly even all three of them were going to advance? And could anyone except the most diehard supporters have stomached the National League side of an expanded playoff last year? Netflix would have looked pretty good when pitted against say Dodgers-Reds, or Cardinals-Mets.

Next. Could Franchise Tags Fix MLB?. dark

Bottom-line, MLB clearly thinks there’s no way more playoffs can be bad. If playoff expansion leads to a couple rounds of blowouts though, there’s actually no way it will be good.