With the negotiations on a new deal going nowhere, and with both sides resigned to relying on the March Agreement, MLB owners tonight unanimously approved the Commissioner going ahead with a plan for the season.
Here’s the official MLB statement, which can’t help but criticize the players in the process:
“Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development.
“The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new Postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits including:
1) The universal DH for two years
2) A guaranteed $25 million in playoff pools in 2020
3) $33 million in forgiven salary advances that would increase the take home pay of 61% of Major League players
4) Overall earnings for players of 104 percent of prorated salary
5) Over the last two days, MLB agreed to remove expanded Postseason in 2021 in order to address player concerns
“In view of this rejection, the MLB Clubs have unanimously voted to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th Agreement. The provisions listed above will not be operative.
“In order to produce a schedule with a specific number of games, we are asking that the Players Association provide to us by 5:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow with two pieces of information. The first is whether players will be able to report to camp within seven days (by July 1st). The second is whether the Players Association will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.”
So, then, we don’t have a particular number of games yet stated, though the implication in the owners’ request is that the number will be higher (maybe even 60) if the players respond by tomorrow at 5pm ET. I expect we’ll now also finally starting learning more details about the March Agreement, as it relates to the planned season. We know that it means the players get prorated pay, they get service time for a full year if they’re up for the full shortened season, we know that the DH is here for 2020, and we know – absent a side agreement – there will be no postseason expansion.
Apparently the health and safety protocols have already been completed(?), and now the league is asking the players to sign off on them by tomorrow, and also agree to report to Spring Training Part Two by July 1.
Should be a news-filled 24 hours. Or maybe just more sniping back and forth. Hopefully by tomorrow we can firmly say that a plan is in place for baseball this year.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that MLB’s current plan is indeed to go for 60 games, assuming they get responses from the players tomorrow.
Basically, I’ve got 24 hours to work my way up to “OK, so much of this has completely sucked, but I would like to be pumped about a plan for actual baseball!” Perhaps starting to think about the roster (likely to be 30ish) and the bullpen and the impact of a short season on how you deploy the rotation and Kris Bryant as the leadoff hitter will pep me up a bit …