On Sunday, the MLB Players Association submitted a proposal to Major League Baseball for a 2020 season that would include, among other aspects, a 114-game regular season and expanded playoffs. It took the league a few days to respond, but on Wednesday owners rejected the union’s proposal and said they would not send a counteroffer, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The owners are said to want a shorter regular season, perhaps as short as 50 or 60 games, with an emphasis on getting to the postseason quickly. The hope is to have the postseason completed before a possible second wave of the novel coronavirus can sweep the country, thus ensuring the league pockets all of the money from playoff television deals. (The union, as part of its proposal, included the potential for mass deferrals if the postseason was canceled due to a renewed spread of COVID-19.)
It should be noted that refusing to make a counteroffer is a well-known negotiating tactic, one commonly employed in baseball circles by agent Scott Boras, and that the league’s stance does not necessarily mean the 2020 season is endangered. Still, this was eyed as a pivotal week if the two sides wanted to begin play sometime in early July, and so far there’s been limited momentum toward a deal.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that commissioner Rob Manfred would be willing to force a shortened season with prorated salaries if the two sides could not strike an agreement. That season would be about half as long as the players’ desired length.
While the sides remain apart on the money and season length, it appears they’re closer than not when it comes to the health component. Indeed, the players are expected to get “much of what they want on health and safety,” according to SNY’s Andy Martino.
Originally, the league had sent the union a 67-page proposal that laid out its vision for testing and safety protocols. That document included guidelines on travel, clubhouse arrangement, and players’ etiquette when on the road. The union subsequently offered revisions, with players reportedly wanting more access to workout and recovery equipment.
MLB had originally intended to launch its season on March 26.Two weeks prior, the league was forced to hit pause, alongside every other in-season professional sports league, due to the spread of COVID-19.