Although Major League Baseball and the Players Association have both suggested there is reason for optimism a 2020 regular season will be played, the two sides have remained at odds over a financial plan.
A March 26 agreement between MLB and the union called for players to be credited service time based on last year and also had them due to receive prorated salaries for 2020. However, the league has taken the position that language in that deal called for new negotiations if substantial economic challenges arose.
MLB believes the prospect of at least beginning the season without fans being able to attend games meets that criteria. The MLBPA has countered with a refusal to budge from seeking prorated pay for this year.
They presented a proposal to MLB that called for a 114-game season, expanded playoffs and possible deferment of pay, which according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the league rejected, won’t submit a counter to and have pivoted to internal discussions:
MLB rejected the union’s proposal for a 114-game season and said it would not send a counter, sources tell The Athletic. The league said it has started talks with owners about playing a shorter season without fans, and that it is ready to discuss additional ideas with the union.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 3, 2020
Reports indicate the March 26 deal allows for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to unilaterally set the season’s schedule. MLB was previously reported as being interested in a 50- to 60-game season, but that also wasn’t expected to be presented to the MLBPA for formal approval.
Team owners have claimed they would lose more money by paying prorated salaries for games that can’t have fans in attendance than if the entire 2020 season was simply cancelled. Some owners reportedly would be in favor of cancelling the season as a means to limit losses.
There also is the factor of MLB harboring concern over a second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that could impact and potentially shut down the postseason, when the league would be in position to recoup revenues lost throughout the year, and thus favoring a shorter season.
If MLB were willing to offer an 82-game schedule but without the sliding scale of pay cuts, players presumably would be amenable to that plan. However, the prospect of playing 50 or 60 games amounts to receiving one-third of expected pay before the pandemic struck, and that likely would be difficult for the MLBPA to support.
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