Multiple outlets are reporting that MLB has rejected a proposal from the MLBPA for a 114-game season, and while it’s being reported MLB says it will not make another proposal to players, it may not have to: a March agreement calling for a shorter season and full, prorated salaries could still be in play.
There’s a lot of posturing these days, and we’re not entirely sure there’s good faith throughout this process. As was reported today by ESPN and The Athletic, MLB negotiators formally rejected the idea of a 114-game season with playoffs potentially stretching past Thanksgiving. The reasoning: having the season bleed too far into November and December would run into a predicted second wave of COVID-19 infections come the late fall. There’s also the issue of pushing the MLB season past its traditional October dates for the playoffs.
The advantage of a 114-game season for the players: to play as many games as possible in order to lessen the impact of prorated salaries. That’s been cited as the main reason for player opposition to a shorter season.
What comes next? Remember: the MLB and MLBPA already have an agreement for how a shortened season would look. In March the two sides came to a pretty quick agreement on what could happen in the case of a shortened season: Players would receive credit for a full season of service, even if the season is scrapped, while a schedule could be implemented with prorated salaries. Also, MLB advanced players $170 million in 2020 salaries. Remember, the latest talks covered changes to this agreement, with MLB proposing pay cuts based on the lack of revenue from fans in the stands. The only point in that agreement requiring additional negotiations was if the season was played in empty ballparks or at neutral sites. Those “good faith” negotiations seem to have ended, but that March agreement still stands.
And there’s the rub. Will MLB demand this existing agreement be fulfilled by players with a 50-game season? (No, we don’t want to debate the semantics of whether this constitutes a proposal. We are not labor lawyers.) We’ll need to wait and see. But we suspect this isn’t the end of talk about the 2020 MLB season.
With daily news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we launched a Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.
RELATED STORIES: Why a 50-game season makes sense for MLB, MLBPA; Fate of 2020 MLB season again up in the air; Players reject MLB financial plan for 2020 season resumption; California, New York govs clear way for sports in empty ballparks in June; Teams find alternative uses for ballparks as entertainment venues; Fans prioritize safety when considering return to baseball: study; When baseball returns, will fans return as well?