MLB 14 The Show Online Franchise detailed

With Spring Training currently underway for Major League Baseball, it means we're just a few weeks away from the release of MLB 14: The Show. This year, Sony San Diego has made improvements aimed at ramping up the speed of the game. But that's not all the team has focused on. In a dev blog posted to the game's forums last week, developer Lance Leahy provided an in-depth explanation of MLB 14: The Show's Online Franchise.

"We took the team-building aspects of Franchise, such as scouting and offseason contract negotiations, and merged them with the customizable schedules and divisional alignments of Online Leagues. We also continued to refine the game logic that governs trade values, lineups, player generation, and more," Leahy said as an overall outline of the new mode.

When first creating an Online Franchise, you'll automatically become the Commissioner. As such, you'll choose divisional alignment, schedule type, Designated Hitter preference, and things of that nature. You'll also invite players and choose which teams are controlled by CPU.

Throughout the regular season you'll be able to scout players for the draft. Scouting will help you distinguish between future superstars and busts. Once drafted, your players will need to spend some time in the minors, so MLB 14 The Show will give you full access to the full minor league rosters. You'll be able to move players up and down from Class-A all the way to the Major, sets training assignments, and use prospects as trade bait.

MLB 14 The Show

"Our trade logic has been greatly improved as well, so forget about lopsided trades involving three top prospects for an average major league middle reliever," Leahy assured.

The offseason has been divided into two parts: the first part will entail all of your contract renewable players, arbitration cases and draft pick signings.

"Our player contract logic has received a much needed overhaul, as we made MLB service time more of a factor when determining player interest and ideal salary," said Leahy. "One example where this is really noticeable is when trying to offer contract extensions to your young players. In the past, you were able to sign young superstar players to extremely cheap long-term contracts, which is unrealistic in today’s MLB. 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. This type of contract is becoming much more common in real-life lately, with teams like the Rays and Braves leading the way, and it was important for us to incorporate this new dynamic into the game."

Part two will consist of free agency, divided into an adjustable number of rounds, or advancement periods. Every team gets to make their best offer to players and then the commissioner can advance to the next round. Players will then either sign with a team or remain on the market for the next round.

MLB 14 The Show free agent

"The bidding wars that occur in this part of the offseason can become pretty intense, coupled with the fact that you’re competing against other human opponents makes the bidding all the more entertaining," Leahy added.

Lastly, Sony San Diego has expanded record keeping. The game now stores draft classes, retired players, and additional career stats and awards on the Player Card. League Events and Notifications will keep you up to date on what's happening around the league and what you need to do to manage your team correctly.

MLB 14 The Show will be available for PS3 and Vita on April 1, 2014. A PS4 version will be released some time in May.