By Sam Bush
So, all the other sports have gotten what passes for their act together after the pandemic pause.
The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS all have plans in place for a season re-start.
And that leaves MLB behind the 8-ball.
Commish Rob Manfred guaranteed there will be a 2020 MLB season no matter what. If the league and the MLB Players Association can’t agree to a deal, though, there will be players who sit out the entire season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As MLB owners have fought with the MLBPA over the level of pay cuts players will receive, while also requiring them to sign a risk waiver, many in baseball fear that the league is headed for a worst-case scenario. If both sides can’t agree to a deal, with little sign of promise from recent negotiations, there will be players who sit out the 2020 MLB season.
In fact, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, one owner has already heard from several of his team’s players that they will sit out if Manfred imposes a shortened season. Even knowing they would forfeit their salary and lose a year of service time, which counts towards becoming a free agent, players are still willing not to take the field.
Players across MLB have made it clear they want baseball to return, a sentiment that reportedly isn’t shared by every team owner. With only a few days remaining before Manfred imposes a shortened season, potentially fewer than 60 games, the MLBPA is still fighting with the league over safety concerns and salary.
MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement in March on some guidelines for a reshaped 2020 season. Under the deal, players would receive a prorated portion of their salaries based on the number of games played and would receive full service time this year.
However, MLB has suggested the structure was dependent on things returning to normal with fans able to attend games this year. Given that it is no longer possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings, owners have indicated they will lose $4 billion this year under the current plan.
As a result, MLB has offered the MLBPA a percentage of the prorated salaries in each of its proposals to the union. Most recently, the league offered a 76-game season, with players receiving 75% of their prorated salaries and a chance to make more money through playoff bonuses.
The MLBPA immediately rejected the offer, citing the salary figures were no different than the previous offers and just being presented in a different way. Shortly after, the MLBPA offered MLB a new proposal that reduced the season from 114 games to 89 games. Players would receive their fully prorated salaries and MLB could expand the playoffs for the next two years in exchange. But, the owners quickly made it clear they had no interest in the offer.