MLB 14: The Show Online Franchise Mode in a League of Its Own

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There comes a time in every teams existence where rebuilding is required. The friendly folks at San Diego Studios have been nice enough to show off and discuss their new Online Franchise mode, and the long awaited addition appears to be very deep and very polished.

Franchise mode has long been staple for The Show and gave you to ability to rebuild a franchise from the ground up, or just play with the current roster and try to make it better with trades and/or off season acquisitions, coupled with scouting and some minor league development. With MLB 14: The Show you can now take the mode online and play with friends across the globe.

When you create an Online Franchise, you automatically become the league’s Commissioner. This gives you the ability to create a custom league with your own league alignments, you can choose whether to use a DH or not, choose schedule types as well as choosing whether to allow custom rosters or not. The options are aplenty and can add a depth that has been needed for some time.  Once you have your league setup you can invite other players to join. If you’re really serious about your league, coming to a general consensus on settings in a forum somewhere would be a great idea.

MLB 14 Create Franchise

What better way to keep a friendly rivalry alive between you and your friends? Red Sox vs Yanks, A’s vs Rangers, Angels vs Rangers? Pick your team and let your friends pick theirs, and let the rivalry live online, maybe even in a custom division where the Yanks have to play the Nationals on a regular basis. Strasburg vs C.C. many times over the course of a season might make for some great pitching performances. The again, maybe the Bronx Bombers would have Stras’s number and hammer him hard, early and often. You never know what can happen in baseball.

Building a successful team in Online Franchise is as much about what happens on the field, as about what happens off the field. One of the most important things you can do to remain competitive is to draft amateur players effectively, in order to keep replenishing your major league roster with top-tier talent. To do this, you’ll need to scout players throughout the regular season so that you don’t go into your live online draft unprepared. Without proper scouting reports, you’ll have a much tougher time trying to distinguish between future superstars and draft-day busts.

Amateur Draft

Amateur Draft

If you are scouting your prospects properly, you should have pretty good idea who just might be the next Trout or Trumbo, and not some guy who’ll struggle to stay above the Mendoza line. These guys may not be MLB ready right now, but make them a starter in your minor league system and they may make the trip to The Show quicker than expected. Just because a kid is 19 doesn’t mean he can’t blow guys away with a blazing fastball and a devastating slider. K-Rod anyone?

The vast majority of your drafted players will need some seasoning in the minors before they’re ready for The Show, so San Diego Studios has given us access to full minor league rosters. We’ll be able to move players up and down from Class-A all the way to the Majors, set training assignments, and also pull-off trades with other teams. The trade logic has been greatly improved as well, so forget about lopsided trades involving three top prospects for an average major league middle reliever.

Roster Manager

Roster Manager

The offseason  has now been divided into two parts. In Part 1, you will renew contracts with available players, deal with arbitration cases and complete draft pick signings. The player contract logic has received a much needed overhaul, as MLB service time is more of a factor when determining player interest and ideal salary. This is an area that has been lacking in the past and is a welcome change. One example where this should be really noticeable is when trying to offer contract extensions to your young players. In the past, you were able to sign young superstars to extremely cheap long-term contracts, which doesn’t make sense in the real world. Now, you’ll still be able to lock these players up early in their careers, but you’ll have to pay something much closer to their market value. With these contracts being made in the MLB today, it makes sense to add these in the game as well.

Free agent signings happen in Part 2 of the offseason, which is divided into an adjustable number of rounds, or advancement periods. Every team gets a chance to make their best offer, and then the commissioner advances to the next round.

Free Agent Rounds

Free Agent Rounds

Free Agent Contracts

Free Agent Contracts

Players will either sign with a team, or they will remain on the market for the next round. Bidding wars should add an intense layer of competition when two rivals are going after the same top free agent, but watch out for that salary cap. You may overspend on a big bat and leave a much needed arm on the table for someone else to snatch up.

Rounding out the whole package is the expanded record keeping, as it now stores draft classes, retired players, and additional career stats and awards on the Player Card. In addition, League Events and Notifications will keep you up to date on what’s happening around the league, and what tasks you need to perform to manage your team properly.

The in-depth changes and new bells and whistles added to the Online Franchise Mode are really shaping up to create a system that is truly in a league of its own.

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Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?