At the time viewed as a significant agreement, the March 26 deal between Major League Baseball and the Players Association has since become a source of friction and two different interpretations.
The agreement addressed service time and salaries for what undeniably was going to be a regular season unlike any other in the sport’s history. However, players receiving full prorated salaries has now been deemed unfeasible by team owners due to fans not being able to attend games at the overwhelming majority of stadiums.
MLB reportedly will adhere to government guidelines, and for instance in Texas, would allow the Houston Astros and Rangers to have some fans in attendance.
MLB and the MLBPA have spent the past few weeks rejecting and submitting counterproposals, with the latest coming from the union. Although MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said it would be rejected, he additionally guaranteed to Tom Verducci on MLB Network that a 2020 regular season would be held:
“We’re going to play baseball in 2020, 100%. If it has to be under the March 26 agreement, if we get into that point in the calendar, so be it. But one way or the other, we’re playing Major League Baseball.”
Manfred’s unwavering confidence seemingly stems from his ability to implement a regular season that aims to play as many games as possible. Given Spring Training 2.0 would need to precede Opening Day, that number figures to be an estimated 50 games.
After players proposed a 114-game season, they reduced that number to 89 in their latest offer to the league. Manfred called it ‘unrealistic’ in large part because MLB is factoring advice from medical officials, who caution a second wave of coronavirus (COVID-19) could surface in the fall.
As a result, MLB is seeking to finish the regular season around late September or early October, so that a full postseason — when teams would be in position to generate revenue by way of TV contracts — could be played without interruption.
It’s generally believed players wouldn’t strike if Manfred imposes a truncated season, but they could very well file a grievance and not agree to an expanded number of playoff teams.
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