The Major league Baseball players’ association voted by a 33- 5 margin to reject the owners’ latest proposal for a 60 game season, setting the stage for Commissioner Rob Manfred to implement a schedule in the range of 50 to 60 games.
UPDATE:MLB owners have voted unanimously to proceed with the season.
MLB owners voted unanimously to go ahead with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th agreement per league release. So there will be baseball this year – pandemic permitting, that is.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted that Manfred is expected to implement a 60 game schedule. “although no official announcement yet”. He then reversed course and tweted that Manfred is not expected to implement a schedule today, or even tomorrow. Some owners are reported to prefer canceling the season if there is no agreement. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Manfred would be holding a conference call with owners this evening.
The vote to reject the owners’ final offer was expected after last minute haggling failed to provide any meaningful changes in the proposal. The owners proposal would have provided:
- 60 game schedule
- Full prorated salaries
- Playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 2020 and 2021
- Universal DH in 2020 and 2021
- Players waive right to file any grievances
- $25 million players playoff pool
- $33 million write off of $170 million salary advance
- Advertising patches on uniforms
- Rule to start extra innings with a runner on second base
The schedule, if implemented by Manfred, is expected to take place from July 29 or later, and conclude by September 27. The universal DH and regional scheduling is part of the agreement for the 2020 season.
Players countered the last proposal with an offer of 70 games, restoring the $50 million playoff pool. The owners rejected that proposal without making a counter offer.
The proposal was a non starter
The proposal provided for about $1.5 billion in player salaries, or about 37 percent of full season salaries. That is about the same amount as the owners’ previous proposal to play 72 games at 83 percent of prorated salaries, but a chunk of that was dependent upon completing the post season.
The offer also included a playoff pool of $25 million, which is half of the amount included in previous offers from both players and owners for a $50 million playoff pool. The playoff pool was about $80 million in 2019.
The players have consistently objected to the owners insistence on paying them less than full prorated salaries, as the two sided agreed on March 27. The owners claimed that should not apply when there will be no fans in attendance. The first proposal from ownership to pay full prorated salaries came on June 17, in their fourth proposal.
The players had been expected to vote on the proposal on Sunday, but that was postponed when a late offer was made by Manfred to eliminate expanded playoffs and the universal DH for the 2021 season if there were less than 50 games played in 2020. The owners said there was no flexibility on the number of games, or the playoff pool, or the advance write off amount.
The MLBPA is expected to file a grievance against the owners based on Manfred implementing a schedule for “as many games as possible”. The owners had proposed a 72 game schedule just five days before making the most recent proposal for just 60 games. So, the players will argue that the number of games is less so they don’t have to pay the players.
A Grievance could be filed
Filing a grievance would not delay the 2020 season, but the process could take several months, beginning with an extensive battle over discovery in which the players will demand that the owners open their books to back their claims that they would lose money by playing more games. The players could seek up to $1 billion for lost salary.
Three previous proposals by MLB owners included salary cuts below the prorated salaries. Three proposals by the MLBPA proposed playing games after September 27, which the owners had rejected several times.
Manfred could implement a schedule of 60 games, rather than the previously threatened 48 to 50 games in order to strengthen the chances of defending against the grievance. He could also cancel the season, citing health concerns. But doing so just after the players rejected an offer to play ball could give rise to a grievance based on bad faith, which would be for even more money .
The parties are finalizing details finalizing details on a set of health and safety protocols for the season.