MLB has made a proposal to the MLB players’ association to delay the start of the 2021 baseball season, shortening the season from 162 to 154 games, expanding the playoffs from 10 to 14 teams, and guaranteeing “full pay” to the players, according to multiple sources. The union is said to be considering the proposal even as details are slowly leaking out.
Currently, spring training is scheduled to begin on February 17 when pitchers and catchers report to camps in Arizona and Florida. The latest proposal would delay the start of the season until April 28th, and delay the start of spring training until March 22nd. Playoffs would include a first-round best of three series for all but the teams with the best record in each league. The plan would also implement a universal designated hitter rule and guarantee players 162 game pay for 154 games.
Players are expected to reject the proposal, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. With spring training set to begin in a week, most players have made travel and accommodations already, and many are already on site for spring training. There is no extra money in the deal for the players unless there are fans in attendance at games in the playoffs.
MLB had earlier proposed expanding the playoffs in exchange for implementing a universal DH, which was rejected by the players as a lopsided exchange. Owners very much want to expand the postseason as it would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in added revenue, while the DH has been down the list of priorities for the players.
Should the players agree to the proposal, they would be cashing in one of their biggest bargaining chips heading into the next round of talks for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the current deal set to expire after the 2021 season. The proposal may contain terms that allow the commissioner greater authority to cancel games, which he did in 2020, in a manner that players believe was done in bad faith to reduce revenue paid to players.
Owners would like to delay the season while Americans are vaccinated, making larger attendance at games a possibility. They have already agreed to seven-inning doubleheaders and implemented the idiotic rule to begin extra innings with a runner on base for the 2021 season.