Get ready for a 48-game MLB season in 2020.
MLB took a step closer to playing in 2020 on Saturday, but not in a way that will satisfy anybody.
The Players Association informed the owners that they are formally rejecting the latest offer to start the season and won’t be making a counter-offer, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The owners had proposed a 76-game season earlier this week with upward of 75 percent of prorated salaries.
Instead, the MLBPA told the owners that commissioner Rob Manfred should tell them by Monday what type of season he plans on unilaterally implementing, and when players should report to camp. “If it is your intention to unilaterally impose a season, we again request that you inform us and our members of how many games you intend to play and when and where players should report,” the MLBPA wrote in a letter to the owners. “It is unfair to leave players and the fans hanging at this point.”
Under the agreement made on March 26, Manfred has the authority to institute a schedule if negotiations don’t result in a deal. The interpretation of that agreement has hampered the talks all along. Players allege it guarantees them full prorated salaries depending on how many games are played. They’ve steadfastly refused to accept any further pay cuts.
The owners, meanwhile, believe the agreement was made contingent on playing with fans in the seats. With that scenario now unlikely, they want the players to take a bigger pay cut in order to offset the financial losses that will come with staging games in empty arenas. Those losses would come out to around $640,000 per game, a figure the players dispute and want the owners to prove.
The owners have resorted to offering the players the same deal in different packaging. The 76-game season would result in the players receiving around 33 percent of their salaries, the same as in a 50-game season with full prorated pay or an 82-game schedule with a sliding scale of pay cuts which is what was originally proposed. Andrew McCutchen of the Phillies poked fun at the owners’ tactics in a social media post on Friday, but there is nothing funny about the state of negotiations.
With talks going nowhere, all that is left is for Manfred to implement a season. He’s reportedly focusing on one as short as 48 games, less than 30 percent of a regular MLB season. It’s one that players don’t want and fans believe would be illegitimate. The only side that would relish such a scenario is the owners, who would have to pay the players less than a third of their original salaries.
Both sides wasted weeks and blew an opportunity to start the season on the Fourth of July holiday. It was less a negotiation than an argument through the media, with both parties issuing proposals they knew the other would swiftly reject. It doesn’t bode well for labor peace in the sport with the Collective Bargaining Agreement expiring following the 2021 season.
The players don’t trust the owners. The owners believe the players are being greedy. There is little love lost between them. And as usual in such labor disputes, it’s the fans who suffer. Baseball will be played in 2020, but it will be as much of a joyless year as any fan could imagine.