Another week appears as though it’s going to close without Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association reaching an agreement for there to be some form of a 2020 season.
Given that today is June 5, baseball appears to be running out of time. Bob Klapisch of The Newark Star-Ledger says that “the mood around the MLB negotiations is dark.” A source told Klapisch that “things are really bad right now,” and he added that “it’s going to take a miracle to save the season.”
For some time now, the prevailing belief has seemed to be that while it’s possible that there wouldn’t be a 2020 season, the most likely outcome was still that the two sides would reach an agreement. But it’s June 5, multiple weeks (at least) would be needed for a preseason and owners appear to have dug their heels in on the idea of the postseason not going into November, which is probably smart with the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 this winter.
Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that MLB rejected the MLBPA plan for a 114-game season.
Thursday, Tony Clark, the MLBPA director, issued the following statement, indicating that players still feel as though they shouldn’t have to take any further salary reductions than the ones they agreed to back in March.
“In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.
“Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.
“This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions…The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.”
ESPN‘s Jeff Passan reported earlier this week that as part of the agreement that the two sides reached in March, some MLB owners believe that commissioner Rob Manfred would be able to implement a shorter season – he suggested 50-60 games – if the two sides can’t reach an agreement. That would obviously not be ideal, but perhaps better than altogether cancelling the season.
What we do know is that whether there ends up being a season or not, the fact that the two sides appear to still be very far apart is a bad sign as a new CBA will need to be reached after the 2021 season. Unfortunately, fans may need to prepare for a reality where the economics of the sport will be as discussed as the sport itself for a few years.
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