If a gulf didn’t already exist between Major League Baseball and the Players Association, they two sides certainly face a significant divide now. As was widely expected, the union rejected MLB’s proposal for a 72-game season and up to 80% of prorated salaries earned.
The MLBPA delivered their decision Saturday night — one day before the deadline set by the league. Players also effectively ended any negotiations, if that’s what an exchange of counterproposals could be considered.
“Players want to play. It’s who we are and what we do. Since March, the Association has made it clear that our No.1 focus is playing the fullest season possible, as soon as possible, as safely as possible,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark wrote in a statement.
“Players agreed to billions in monetary concessions as a means to that end, and in the face of repeated media leaks and misdirection we made additional proposals to inject new revenues into the industry – proposals that would benefit the owners, players, broadcast partners, and fans alike.
“It’s now become apparent that these efforts have fallen upon deaf ears. In recent days, owners have decried the supposed unprofitability of owning a baseball team and the Commissioner has repeatedly threatened to schedule a dramatically shortened season unless players agree to hundreds of millions in further concessions.
“Our response has been consistent that such concessions are unwarranted, would be fundamentally unfair to players, and that our sport deserves the fullest 2020 season possible. These remain our positions today, particularly in light of new reports regarding MLB’s national television rights – information we requested from the league weeks ago but were never provided.
“As a result, it unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”
Shortly after Clark’s statement, MLB issued one on the league’s behalf.
“We are disappointed that the MLBPA has chosen not to negotiate in good faith over resumption of play after MLB has made three successive proposals that would provide players, Clubs and our fans with an amicable resolution to a very difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it read.
“The MLBPA understands that the agreement reached on March 26th was premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans, and that another negotiation was to take place if Clubs could not generate the billions of dollars of ticket revenue required to pay players.
“The MLBPA’s position that players are entitled to virtually all the revenue from a 2020 season played without fans is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that Clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season. We will evaluate the Union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March Agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.”
With the two sides seemingly unable to arrive at a decision on players’ pay, the expectation is commissioner Rob Manfred will impose a shortened season of an estimated 50 games. It’s unlikely to include an expanded postseason and may be followed by the MLBA filing a grievance.
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