MLB owners and players’ association still far from each other, but the season could still take place
The 2020 MLB season realistically only has a few days to be preserved in any form. Last week, owners and players exchanged proposals on how to handle a truncated season they both hope to start around July 4 while staying away from a deal.
The main focus of the battle between the two sides has been how to handle wages in a shortened season. Players were willing to accept pro-rata wages while owners wanted to cut much deeper, citing lost income from games played in empty stadiums.
In the past two days, both sides have released their latest proposals, but there is still a wide gap between them.
First, the players proposed a season of 114 games which could push back beyond the typical late September / early October regular season end date with salary deferrals if the playoffs cannot be played in the fall due to a second wave of COVID- 19.
On Monday, the owners’ response was that it was a non-starter. Later that same day they played what could be their trump card. They responded with a counter that would dramatically shorten the season – to around 50 games – but did not include the previously requested revenue split or the gradual pay cuts that angered players last week.
The important element of this latest development, like ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported Monday, is that the owners and Commissioner Rob Manfred believe they could go ahead and impose the short schedule and dispense with further negotiations if necessary.
This is probably still a bargaining chip on the part of the owners, but it is strong. Based on their interpretation of the March deal between the owners and MLBPA, they could simply force the season to start much shorter than the 82 or even 114 game schedule than players and most purists. baseball hope.
This interpretation comes from the belief that the deal they struck in March allows Manfred to create his own plan for the season if the two sides fail to come to an agreement.
“The Commissioner’s Office will construct and provide the Players’ Association as soon as possible with a proposed 2020 Championship season and playoff schedule (or multiple schedule options) doing its best to play as much. of matches as possible, while taking into account the player. safety and health, reprogramming needs, competitive considerations, availability of stadiums and the economic feasibility of various alternatives, ”says the March agreement.
This, along with the language at the start of the deal that said the players’ association and owners must work “in good faith” to start the season whenever possible, provided the backbone of the counter. -proposal from the owners on Monday.
The March deal does not allow players to strike or owners to lock them out, as reported by Bruce Levine from 670 AM Chicago. It is therefore possible that by the end of the week, the owners will impose their will on the outcome of the season plan.
One potential problem with the proposed 50-year game schedule is that under normal circumstances that number of games is barely enough to flesh out a baseball season.
For example, in 2019 the Cubs were 10 games over 0.500 and a few games at the top of their division at the 50 game mark (they finished third in the Central National League) and at the same mark the Nationals were 12 matches below. 500 and 10 return games in their division. They of course won the World Series.
There’s another wrinkle in the owners’ 50-game suggestion on Monday. Players openly bristled at the sliding scale proposal last week, but by potentially shortening the season to that degree and keeping pro-rated salaries, players would earn just over 30% of their full salary. One of the issues they had with the sliding scale was that it hit the highest paid players the hardest and barely hit those who were winning at minimum or near the league, but this latest idea from the owners would hit them. all equally.
The latest information from the owners also indicates that players will not receive any playoff bonuses as a playoff extension is expected to be collectively negotiated.
Whatever the 2020 season, the days to get there are numbered. Both sides have at least agreed that they believe regular season games could begin in early July with spring training resuming around June 10.
The players are unlikely to accept a season that looks like what the owners proposed on Monday, and that will leave things still uncertain.
A move like forcing the season on players – even if it’s technically permissible – wouldn’t bode well for collective bargaining which is expected to begin when the current collective agreement expires at the end of next year, but unless something goes wrong. be decided soon, there may not be. be another option.