By Sam Bush

ESPN is reporting that the Major League Baseball Players Association has turned down the latest MLB proposal for the universal designated hitter and an expanded playoff format.

The union’s stance has been all along that it did not want to talk about a trade of the universal DH — which benefits a group of players — in return for expanded playoffs. Nonetheless, MLB included the two items in its proposal, and that concept has been turned down, per sources.

The universal DH and expanded playoff format were implemented for 2020 during the 60-game shortened regular season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NL teams have used a DH when playing in AL parks since interleague play was instituted in 1997.

MLB implemented a 16-team playoff format for the 2020 postseason. The top two teams in each division, plus the two remaining teams with the best records in each league, made up the eight-team fields in the American and National Leagues. The division winners were the top three seeds in each league, with the second-place teams slotted as seeds 4 through 6, and the remaining two qualifiers seeded Nos. 7 and 8.

The working relationship between the two sides continues to be tense, compared to much of the interplay since the resolution of the 1994-95 players’ strike. Last summer, negotiations over the truncated 2020 season and players’ compensation dragged out publicly over many weeks. As MLB and the union try to settle their unresolved issues before the 2021 season, this looms on the horizon: the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire in Dec. of 2021.

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