One final time, Major League Baseball and its Players Association disagreed on a proposal to save the 2020 season. And yet, it appears more certain than ever that there will still be a 2020 season.
Roughly an hour after the union rejected the league's 60-game proposal in a 33-5 vote late Monday afternoon, the owners responded with a 30-0 vote authoring Rob Manfred to exercise his authority as commissioner, granted in a March 26 agreement, to implement a season. All that stands in the way is the union approving a set of safety protocols by the owners' deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday.
If that happens, the start of a second spring training will be July 1. The season, per multiple reports, would be 60 games, though that wasn't official.
"The MLBPA Executive Board met multiples times in recent days to assess the status of our efforts to resume the 2020 season," the MLBPA released in a statement. "Earlier this evening, the full board reaffirmed the players' eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible. To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule. While we had hoped to reach a revised back-to-work agreement with the league, the players remain fully committed to proceeding under our current agreement and getting back on the field for the fans, for the game, and for each other."
MLB released the following statement in response, saying "we are disappointed" by the union's rejection:
MLB's statement in response to the union's rejection of their 60-game season proposal pic.twitter.com/kgsZ7KxIzJ
— Alex Stumpf (@AlexJStumpf) June 23, 2020
Manfred and MLBPA executive director Tony Clark met privately in Arizona last week to reopen negotiations after the union released a statement June 13 that they were done countering the league's offers. While the meeting seemed to bring the two sides closer to striking an agreement, Manfred and Clark left with different understandings of where the negotiations stood. Manfred said the two sides had "framework" for a deal shortly after the league submitted an offer for a 60-game season at full prorated pay, but Clark claimed Manfred welcomed a counterproposal.
The MLBPA sent a counterproposal June 18, a day after the league's 60-game offer. In it, the union proposed making the season 70 games, increasing the players' share of playoff bonuses from $25 million to $50 million and forgiving the $170 million salary advance they received in March. Owners offered to pay back $33 million of that advance instead.
The two sides were about $300 million apart in their last two offers. The union is expected to file a grievance against the league, claiming they did not negotiate in good faith.
Manfred and the owners shot down the union's offer last week, saying 60 games is the most they will play in 2020, citing scheduling as one of the main reasons why. All spring training facilities have been closed for a deep clean after players in the Phillies' and Blue Jays' facilities tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and they will not be able to be reopened until at least June 29. Factoring in a three-week spring training, Manfred told the union Sunday that there are only 66 days potential calendar days for the regular season.
On Sunday, Manfred reached out to the MLBPA to tweak MLB's final proposal, offering to remove expanded playoffs and a universal designated hitter for 2021 if a full season was not able to be played.
Under the guidelines of the March agreement, players will receive full prorated salaries. Additionally, there will be no expanded playoffs, meaning just five teams from each league will advance to the postseason.
By failing to reach an agreement, the players forfeit the right to the universal designated hitter for 2020 and 2021, guaranteed pay if the season can not be played in full and the $25 million playoff pool for this year and any forgiveness for that March salary advance.
If spring training is able to start by July 1, then the regular season will likely start in late July and run through late September. Owners do not want to play into November, fearing a second wave of COVID-19 could jeopardize the postseason, so the playoffs should be completed in October.
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