By Sam Bush

Same Stuff, Different Year.

Or words to that effect.

ESPN is reporting that he Major League Baseball Players Association is considering a proposal by MLB to delay the start of the 2021 season, and if the union does not provide a counteroffer early next week, spring training is likely to start in mid-February as scheduled.

The two sides are in a similar position to last year when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season: disagreeing over the proper path forward.

The league’s proposal to push back the start of spring training to late March and the beginning of the season to late April includes a 154-game schedule that would pay players their full 162-game salaries, according to sources.

The proposal concerns the MLBPA on multiple fronts, players and union sources told ESPN. With pitchers having ramped up to start spring training around Feb. 17, they are reticent to shut down and start again by the proposed March 22 spring training start for a season that would begin April 28, according to sources. Further, players believe language in the proposal would grant commissioner Rob Manfred power beyond what he currently has to cancel games and, accordingly, potentially cut into players’ pay.

The league disagrees with that interpretation. While Manfred had the right under the March 26 deal struck by the sides in the wake of the pandemic’s early days last year to cancel games or shut down the sport — something he considered amid early outbreaks — he never did so once the season began. The proposal, league sources said, is intended to protect MLB from a worsening national situation, whether it’s a COVID-19 variant being resistant to the vaccine or an unexpected uptick in cases.

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