Even when taking into account the delayed start of the 2020 regular season, Major League Baseball players should have been on the verge of preparing for Spring Training 2.0 over the past week or so.
Instead, MLB and the Players Association were exchanging counteroffers and criticizing one another as negotiations failed to gain much traction. That culminated Saturday night with the MLBPA rejecting the latest offer from the league.
MLB had proposed a 72-game season with the opportunity for players to earn up to 80% of prorated salaries, in addition to bonus money, if the entire postseason was played. The union kept firm in their stance for full prorated salaries and put the onus on team owners to let players know when to report.
As time has continued to pass by without a deal in place, there was growing concern the league could reach a doomsday scenario of not having a 2020 season at all. That possibility was something Ross Stripling said MLB could ill-afford, via the “Big Swing Podcast” with teammate Ross Stripling that the league cannot afford to do:
“Going dark for 16 months just can’t happen. It looks like the NBA might push their season back. They’re probably tired of having to compete with the NFL, and that puts them right in competition with us. You start getting into TV slots, and we don’t necessarily want to battle the NBA. We can’t afford to go dark for 16 months and lose fans. Like you said, we’ve got such an amazing crop of young players that want to showcase their talent. … Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”
Stripling is correct that public negotiations and potentially cancelling the season runs the risk of losing fans, which are so valuable to MLB, especially during this time.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently guaranteed that there will be a 2020 season, even if the owners and players are not able to come to an agreement in negotiations. He has the ability to implement a season of any length that he chooses though, so it likely would be much shorter than the players want — only around 50 games — if he is forced to make that decision.
A shorter season does not benefit teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, who clearly have the best roster in the National League West. If the season is only 50 games, that runs the risk of the Dodgers missing the postseason if they get off to a slow start like they did in 2018.
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