Is baseball coming back? Here's the latest news on MLB's 60-game season
We’re another step closer to baseball starting up, as Major League Baseball announced Monday the schedule for the 2020 season. Opening day will be July 23, as the Washington Nationals host the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers host the San Francisco Giants. The other 26 teams will start their seasons on July 24.
It’s a 60-game sprint to the postseason that will only feature regional action. All your favorite local rivalries are there, but teams will be confined to games in their division and their parallel division in the opposing league. In other words, teams in the AL East only play the AL East and the NL East.
Here are some games you’ll want to circle on your calendar — like when the Dodgers host the Houston Astros and when Madison Bumgarner returns to face the Giants.
[Timeline: How MLB’s negotiations to restart the 2020 season devolved into a disaster]
Amid all this, baseball is also adjusting to a new normal of coronavirus tests. Many notable names have tested positive, while others have opted out of the season, preferring to spend time at home safely with their families.
Player testing has proven slow in the early going, with players speaking out and some team’s workouts delayed while they await test results. It’s the latest complication in what was weeks of failed negotiations between the league and its players to even start a season amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Below are updates for how we got to this point.
June 22: Commissioner imposes 60-game season after failing to reach agreement with players
There will be a baseball season in 2020 — but only because commissioner Rob Manfred is now imposing his will on the players union.
With their weeks-long stalemate continuing after the players union executive board voted 33-5 to reject MLB’s latest 60-game proposal, the league announced Monday night that it will start the process of implementing a season. According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, a 60-game is what MLB is looking to impose.
The league released a statement saying it was disappointing that a deal couldn’t be struck with players and has given the union a 24-hour deadline to provide two pieces of information needed to start a 2020 season: whether players can report by July 1 and whether the players will agree to the so-called “operating manual” for the season, which contains the health and safety protocols for a COVID-19 shortened season.
Here’s more on the league’s decision to set a schedule without a new agreement.
Major League Baseball and its players have been discussing how to restart the 2020 season following the coronavirus delay for months. Originally, the “plan” involved a start date around July 4 that has since been rendered a complete impossibility by a dysfunctional, fraught economic negotiation.
June 17: MLB sends union new proposal after productive meeting
Major League Baseball has sent the players union a new proposal for restarting the 2020 season after a face-to-face meeting between commissioner Rob Manfred and union chief Tony Clark, sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports.
The proposal was delivered Wednesday after the two men met in Arizona.
Reports indicate the proposal involves a 60-game season with the fully prorated salaries players agreed upon in March, and that the season could start by July 19. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal also reported the union may counter seeking more games.
This follows weeks of clashes between the league and the union, and sends a notable signal that MLB may be reconsidering a hard line stance. The league also made the last proposal in the negotiation.
The talks hit a low point Monday when Manfred said he wasn’t 100 percent certain there’d be a 2020 season just five days after saying there would “unequivocally” be a 2020 season.
Players have taken up “Tell us when and where” as a mantra in recent days, after saying they won’t negotiate any further pay cuts beyond their prorated salaries, but will report to play when the commissioner sets a schedule. Owners, however, fear that the players union would also file a grievance that could cost upward $1 billion if the losers are found to have been negotiating in bad faith.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman has reported that both sides are “closing in on an agreement.” However, the union says that reports of an agreement is “false.” The Athletic’s Evan Drellich notes no deal is close yet, as the union just received the proposal and hasn’t looked it over yet.
Manfred released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming the meeting and saying he and Clark had discussed the framework of the proposal:
At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix. We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.
The potential expansion of the postseason is still up in the air, in addition to the question of whether the union would waive its right to file a grievance against the league.
June 15: Rob Manfred is not ‘100 certain’ there’s going to be an MLB season
Not even a week after saying there would “unequivocally” be a 2020 season, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told ESPN Monday that he’s not 100 percent certain they will play baseball this year.
"I'm not confident. I think there's real risk; and as long as there's no dialogue, that real risk is gonna continue," Manfred told Mike Greenberg for ESPN's "The Return of Sports" special.
"It's just a disaster for our game, absolutely no question about it. It shouldn't be happening, and it's important that we find a way to get past it and get the game back on the field for the benefit of our fans."
This is the latest turn in the saga of trying to get MLB owners and the players’ union to see eye-to-eye on baseball’s return. Over the weekend, players rejected the owners’ latest proposal, saying their requests have fallen on deaf ears and there was no use in negotiating further. The MLBPA ended its statement with, “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”
MLB then sent out a statement scolding the players for not negotiating in good faith. Manfred said Monday that owners remain committed to playing in 2020, blaming the impasse on the players:
"The owners are a hundred percent committed to getting baseball back on the field," Manfred said. "Unfortunately, I can't tell you that I'm a hundred percent certain that's gonna happen."
The latest issue, a source confirmed to Yahoo Sports, is that the league is threatening not to play a 2020 season unless players agree not to file a grievance against the owners saying they did not in good faith pursue the greatest number of games.
Union chief Tony Clark responded via a statement that players are “disgusted” by Manfred’s latest comments, and strongly denied the implication that players were no longer engaging with the league on health and safety protocols.
Before this latest hiccup, the major issue keeping both sides apart is how much the players will be paid for a shortened season. Players want a prorated salary (their 162-game salary scaled down to however many games are played) but owners want players to take an additional pay cut.
The latest proposal from ownership called for a 72-game season with players to be paid a maximum of 37 percent of their 162-game salary if there’s a postseason. If there’s only a regular season, they’d be paid about 31 percent of their 162-game salaries. The last proposal from players was an 89-game season, which would pay them 55 percent of their 162-game salaries.
June 13: MLBPA rejects latest 72-game proposal, stops negotiations
The MLBPA rejected the latest proposal from Major League Baseball on Saturday afternoon.
Despite that, however, it seems they’re done negotiating. The players want to play.
“Since March, the Association has made it clear that our No.1 focus is playing the fullest season possible, as soon as possible, as safely as possible,” MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark. said. in a statement Saturday night. “Players agreed to billions in monetary concessions as a means to that end, and in the face of repeated media leaks and misdirection we made additional proposals to inject new revenues into the industry – proposals that would benefit the owners, players, broadcast partners, and fans alike.
“It’s now become apparent that these efforts have fallen upon deaf ears. In recent days, owners have decried the supposed unprofitability of owning a baseball team and the Commissioner has repeatedly threatened to schedule a dramatically shortened season unless players agree to hundreds of millions in further concessions. Our response has been consistent that such concessions are unwarranted, would be fundamentally unfair to players, and that our sport deserves the fullest 2020 season possible. These remain our positions today, particularly in light of new reports regarding MLB’s national television rights – information we requested from the league weeks ago but were never provided.
“As a result, it unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile. It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.”
MLB released a statement hours later, saying it was disappointed with the MLBPA response but that it would work to “determine the best course to bring baseball back.”
June 12: New MLB offer: 72 games, and a Sunday expiration date
Major League Baseball has sent another proposal to the players union on Friday to restart the 2020 season, sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports. This one calls for a 72-game season with players bringing in about 83 percent of their prorated pay if the postseason is completed.
Players would be guaranteed 70 percent of their prorated salaries for the regular season, then receive further money if the postseason is completed that would amount to about 83 percent of the prorated money. The postseason would also be expanded in this proposal.
If the union were to accept this offer, the regular season would reportedly begin on about July 14 and conclude on Sept. 27. The league has told the union the offer expires Sunday, sources confirmed, which would seem to hint at a deadline for the economic negotiations not yet seen in the tense, halting efforts to restart baseball.
This offer is better than MLB’s previous proposal, but still asks for an additional pay cut from players, which they have previously considered a “non-starter.” The league’s previous proposal called for a 76-game season with pay up to 75 percent of the players’ prorated salaries. It would be 50 percent guaranteed for regular-season play with another 25 percent if there’s a postseason. That proposal was resoundingly dismissed by players, who countered with an 89-game season at full prorated salaries.
Players have not budged from the idea that they deserve full prorated salaries. For example, for 89 games, a “full” prorated salary would amount to 55 percent of their 162-game salary. Owners are asking for an additional pay cut on top of that.
In this latest proposal, players would be paid about 37 percent of their 162-game salaries if the postseason is completed. Or about 31 percent of them if only the regular season payouts are made, which is roughly equal to what players would make if MLB unilaterally implemented a 50-game schedule with full prorated pay.
The two sides signed an agreement in March that called for full prorated salaries, but owners are now arguing for an additional pay cut citing a lack of revenue if games are played without fans.
MLBPA counters latest offer with 89-game season
The Major League Baseball Players Association is proposing an 89-game season that would pay players their full prorated salaries, sources confirm to Yahoo Sports. Under this proposal, the regular season would start July 10 and end Oct. 11 — which would keep baseball’s postseason from overlapping with the NBA Finals.
This is a counter to Monday’s proposal from MLB owners that called for a 76-game season with players taking an additional pay cut on top of their prorated salaries. Under that proposal, players would get 50 percent of their salaries guaranteed for the regular season, and be paid an additional 25 percent of the prorated amount if the postseason is completed.
The new union proposal, sources confirmed, includes an expanded postseason that would allow for up to eight teams per league in 2020 and 2021.
Baseball still finds itself in the same stare-down: Players aren’t budging from their position that they’re due prorated salaries based on the numbers of games played in a potential 2020 season based on a March agreement between the two sides. Owners, citing lost revenue from a lack of fans at stadiums, want players to take an additional pay cut. They have also stated a desire to finish the regular season in September due to concerns about a potential second wave of the coronavirus.
The players have yet to back away from their full prorated salary position, while various MLB plans would pay players anywhere from 23 percent to 35 percent of their 162-game salaries. This latest proposal by players would pay them 55 percent of their 162-game salaries. MLBPA’s previous proposal was for 114 games, which amounted to 70 percent of their 162-game salaries.
MLB proposes 76-game season tying salaries to postseason
After multiple reports indicated MLB would not offer another proposal for resuming play, the league has apparently sent the players association a new proposal.
This proposal would guarantee players only 50 percent of their already prorated salaries for the regular season. The players would receive up to 75 percent of the prorated salaries if the postseason — to which much of MLB’s television revenue is tied — occurs.
Even if the postseason goes off without a hitch and the 75 percent of prorated salaries is paid out, the proposal would amount to players receiving about 35 percent of their usual salaries — only percentage points higher than they would have received in a sliding scale proposal that was roundly rejected.
If MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred went ahead with a unilaterally imposed 50-game season at the full prorated salaries, as is allowed by the sides’ March deal, players would receive about 31 percent of their expected usual pay.
The latest proposal also reportedly includes the measure of removing draft pick compensation for the upcoming free agent class, which would theoretically remove one oft-cited limitation on veterans hitting the market.
If this proposal were to be acted upon, the regular season would end in late September and the World Series would conclude by the end of October in hopes of avoiding a potential second wave of the coronavirus.
July 4 return a near impossibility
When talks about a potential Major League Baseball return began, July 4 was seen as the most realistic target date for opening day.
It definitely had a nice ring to it. Independence Day is typically one of baseball's days to shine. With states starting to ease restrictions over the last month following the COVID-19 shutdown, many believed a July 4 return would be possible.
Not anymore, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal. The lack of a deal or any real negotiations between MLB and the MLB players association this week has pushed us past the threshold for a July 4 return with the next stop possibly being the shorter 48-game or 50-game season MLB owners seek or nothing else.
July 4 is less than a month away. Once a new agreement is reached — if a new agreement is reached — players would need time to report for spring training, particularly those returning from foreign countries. Teams would need at least 10 days to prepare their spring-training sites and/or home ballparks to comply with new medical protocols, according to MLB. Spring training 2.0 would last a minimum of three weeks.
Rosenthal compares the last few weeks to a bickering couple that's about to split. There has been plenty of talk, but no real conversation and certainly no negotiations. The ifs are starting to outnumber the whens. As ESPN's Tim Kurkjian noted on Friday’s Buster Olney Podcast, that has him very concerned.
"When you see what the union wrote yesterday — and I've seen so many times over the years when something comes out and writes something like that ... It makes me believe more than ever — and I'm not sure -- that we aren't going to play this year, and I hope I'm wrong."
The window for the 114-game season that the players proposed is certainly closed. An 80-game season would be difficult as well without a July start. If MLB is to return in 2020, the length will almost certainly be on league’s terms. And if commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements a shorter schedule, that could lead to grievances and a whole new battle with the players.
The bad news: The landscape is not promising.
The OK news: There is still time. Short as it may be.
No further negotiations, only continued bitterness reported
After a tense week of back and forth between Major League Baseball and the MLB players association, formal negotiations remained stalled on Friday.
The two parties had hoped to reach an agreement before June 1, with hopes that spring training would resume on June 10. Four days after that deadline passed, letters obtained and shared by The Athletic only indicate continued bitterness on both sides.
MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote to detail the reasons the league has outright rejected a proposal for a 114-game season from the MLBPA. On Friday, top union negotiator Bruce Meyer countered, stating that MLB is employing a “cynical tactic of depriving America of baseball games.”
Among the key points:
The union leaves open the possibility of filing a grievance should the league unilaterally impose a 50-game schedule.
While MLB has turned over some underlying financial documents supporting claims that 27 of 30 teams would endure financial losses for each regular season game played without fans, the union is seeking additional verification.
The league rejected six different aspects of the union’s 114-game proposal. According to The Athletic, those included the calendar, the number of regular-season games, the end date of the regular season, deferral of player salaries, postseason risk and player opt-outs.
“We are uncomfortable from a public health perspective extending the regular season into October,” Halem wrote. “In addition, your proposal ignores the realities of the weather in many parts of the country during the second half of October. If we schedule a full slate of games in late October, we will be plagued by cancellations.”
Postseason media deals valued at a potential $787 million will account for a large percentage of league revenue in 2020, according to Halem. That explains why the league is determined to complete the full season — postseason included — before a potential second wave of COVID-19 hits.
Halem claims MLB teams have already taken on an additional $2 billion in debt. He also states that teams “do not have the financial capacity to push more 2020 financial obligations into future loans and years without impacting their financial stability.”
The union's request to provide opt-outs with pay and service time will be open for future discussion. However, the league is not interested in giving service time credit to players who do not fall into a high-risk category, or live with someone who does.
The most important thing these letters tell us: the two sides are miles apart. With no negotiations in progress we’re dangerously close to the unthinkable — a year without baseball.
MLBPA Executive Board reaffirms stance on resumption of play
The Major League Baseball players association is not backing down.
After the MLBPA executive board and more than 100 player leaders in total held a conference call on Thursday afternoon, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark issued the following statement reaffirming that the players’ are ‘resoundingly rejecting’ the leagues’ demand for further concessions heading into a potential 2020 season.
“In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.
Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.
This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.
Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.
Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.”
And so the standoff continues, and with no real light at the end of the tunnel.
The players remain unmoved in their position after agreeing to prorated salaries based on the number of games played. That agreement came in March.
Recent reports indicate the league is prepared to implement a shortened season of around 50-60 games if an agreement can’t be reached, which would obviously limit how much the players earn. The players prefer a longer season — up to 114 games — to ensure they receive a larger percentage of their salaries.
Money clearly remains the headline issue. Though the statement does also note there’s still other work left to ensure a safe return.
MLB rejects 114-game proposal, signals willingness to implement short season
On Wednesday, the league rejected the union’s 114-game proposal and made it clear that it would not send a counterproposal. MLB reportedly remains open to conversations with the union about how to restart a season without fans but it has also made it clear owners and commissioner Rob Manfred are prepared to move forward with unilaterally implementing a schedule as short as 50 games.
In not making a counterproposal, the league is essentially saying it is done negotiating unless the MLBPA is willing to move off its demand for receiving full salaries for games played. The same March 26 agreement that the players are citing for prorated salaries also gives the commissioner power to determine season start and length. Thus, the league could cut player salary costs while still honoring the terms of that agreement by simply playing fewer games.
A 50-game season allows the owners to pay roughly 30 percent of a typical season’s agreed-upon salaries, without having to successfully renegotiate how players are paid.
It's unclear how seriously MLB is considering such a short season or if it's primarily a tactic to demonstrate the ability to extract economic concessions without the union's sign-off, but it is at least posturing at moving ahead with a plan that doesn't involve a successful negotiation. - Hannah Keyser
MLB could impose a 50-60 game season
Major League Baseball appears to have another plan it could use to restart games while tamping down salaries. Under this plan, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the league would pay players their prorated salaries, but limit the number of games to 50 or 60.
The union said it has not received as of Monday afternoon, but here are the details, as reported by Passan:
The biggest issue remains money, and a shorter season allows owners another way to control costs. The players would keep the prorated contracts they agreed to in March, which has been a sticking point in negotiations, but the league would schedule fewer games.
In a 50-game season, for instance, players would get about 31 percent of their salaries. The previous proposal from the league, which players universally panned, called for a sliding scale of pay. Under that plan, players who made less money would get closer to a prorated salary while the game’s highest earners would make between 20-40 percent of their salaries.
Passan says the league will still consider other plans with the MLBPA, but could use the March agreement to mandate a short season if no other middle ground is found. That makes this seem like MLB’s nuclear option in negotiations with players, that if the two sides can’t agree to something else, the league can force these terms on players.
If or when this comes to the players as a formal proposal, it will surely spur another round of back-and-forth between the two sides, like we saw last week. The question is whether players will see it as meeting in the middle or another proposal that tilts too far toward the interest of ownership.
Union delivers economic counterproposal to MLB
The MLBPA delivered a proposal to restart the season to the league on Sunday afternoon suggesting a longer, 114-game regular season that would begin in late June and run until Oct. 31. The union’s proposal also included the potential for salary deferrals in the case of a canceled postseason, Yahoo Sports confirmed.
Players expressed extreme disappointment with a Tuesday proposal from MLB that sought to play a 78- to 82-game season with players taking pay cuts on a sliding scale that went beyond prorating their salaries. The union proposal instead seeks prorated salaries, as it contends was agreed upon in a March deal between the two parties.
The union proposal also includes these stipulations:
Deferrals of $100 million should the postseason get canceled. That would reportedly apply to contracts of $10 million or more.
Opt-outs for any players who do not wish to play amid the coronavirus pandemic, with “high-risk” players receiving their salaries while others would continue to receive service time.
A $100 million advance to players during the “spring training” that would lead up to the shortened season.
Two years of postseason expansion.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, ownership reaction to this proposal echoed the union’s negative reaction to earlier ideas, with a source calling it a “non-starter.”
MLBPA weighing response to MLB, awaiting key documents
The players association will take its time before deciding how or when to respond to MLB’s economic proposal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Friday.
Rosenthal says the MLBPA sent a memo to the players outlining its thought process. The memo says the MLBPA is awaiting “key documents” from MLB that would support their call for more salary concessions from the players.
Previous reports indicated the players were preparing a counter proposal that would seek a longer season schedule and full prorated salaries. The expectation was that offer would reach the table by week’s end.
Now though, it seems the players won’t budge until the owners open their books or back off their sliding scale proposal that would pay lower-paid players closer to their half-season prorated salaries and force top-paid players to accept 20-40 percent of their normal salary.
To say there’s no momentum toward a resolution heading into the weekend would be an understatement.
Players to propose longer season, full prorated salaries
After expressing disappointment in response to MLB’s economic proposal, the players are preparing to make a counter proposal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported late Wednesday.
Once finalized, the players are expected to propose a schedule of longer than 82 games, according to Rosenthal’s sources. In addition, the players will seek their full prorated salaries.
Here’s more from The Athletic’s report:
The union wants the league to honor the March agreement stipulating that players would be paid on a prorated, per-game basis, a collective cut that already would exceed $2 billion if only half of a 162-game schedule is played.
The additional cuts the league proposed in an 82-game schedule would increase that amount by 33 percent. The players prefer a regular season in the 100-game range because they would make more money by playing additional games.
The players were clearly disappointed by the league’s economic proposal submitted on Tuesday. Insulted might be a better term based on how some players responded. How the league responds now will be telling. Chances are they won’t find a longer season too appealing, but the hope for baseball fans is that it does spur more direct conversation rather than the back and forth we’ve seen through the media.
Max Scherzer slams MLB’s economic proposal
The gap between MLB and the MLB players association seemed to grow even wider Wednesday.
One day after MLB proposed a sliding-scale economic plan, the players huddled to express disappointment and disdain for the offer, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported.
Leading the charge publicly was Washington Nationals pitcher and MLBPA player executive subcommittee member Max Scherzer. In a strong statement posted to Twitter, Scherzer shredded the league’s proposal while noting there’s no reason why players should "accept a second pay cut" to play a truncated 2020 season.
Scherzer’s words echo the tenor of the union’s formal response on Tuesday. In a released statement, the MLBPA said it was “extremely disappointed” in the economic proposal, while also stating the sides remain far apart of health and safety issues as well.
As Heyman notes, some have viewed the economic proposal simply as part of the negotiating process. Others see it as a league mission to divide the players. If the latter is more on point, the plan seems to be failing so far. Perhaps it’s even pushing us further away from a 2020 season.
With time running short, progress needs to be made sooner than later. At this point, a quick resolution doesn’t seem possible.
MLB drops revenue sharing, proposes new model to pay players
Major League Baseball has dropped its divisive revenue-sharing model to pay players for a potential 2020 season, as the league and the players union try to make progress toward restarting baseball, but the new proposal doesn’t seem much more favorable to players.
The union has previously said the revenue-sharing compensation model was a non-starter, so in a proposal regarding player pay on Tuesday, the league went a different way.
The league is now proposing a sliding scale that would pay lower-paid players closer to their half-season prorated salaries while higher-paid players would take a larger pay cut. Some of the league’s top-paid players would make 20-40 percent of their normal salary, according to reports.
For example, according to ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers: A player making $35 million in 2020 would make about $7.8 million. A $10 million salary would turn into $2.9 million and a player making $1 million would make about $434,000.
The players union’s response? The MLBPA told Yahoo Sports it was “extremely disappointed” in the proposal. The sides also remain far apart on health and safety protocols, the union says, but will meet with players to determine next steps.
Major League Baseball told Yahoo Sports: “We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport. We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”
The two sides had already agreed to a prorated salary structure in March, and the union has said that should be the model. It would pay players slightly more than 50 percent of their normal salaries. But owners have tried to restructure salaries for the shortened season, first floating the revenue-sharing idea and now shifting to this sliding scale.
Players, such as New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman, took the league proposal as a sign there may not be baseball in 2020.
As Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports, there’s also a belief from the players’ side that a sliding scale could be an attempt to divide the players union. Still, this remains the first proposal in what is expected to be a week of busy negotiations between the two sides.
MLB to deliver new economics proposal
Discussions between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA will be on hold throughout Memorial Day weekend. However, they will return with a potentially significant development on Tuesday.
According to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich, that’s when MLB plans to deliver a new economics proposal to the MLBPA.
The players already agreed to prorate their salaries based on the number of games played when the sides negotiated in March. Now MLB is looking for further concessions, which would include a 50-50 revenue sharing plan or essentially a salary cap.
So far, the players have bulked at any such suggestion. If MLB moves forward with the 50-50 revenue sharing proposal, things could get even more contentious.
Union sends notes on MLB health and safety plan
The MLBPA sent the league its response to the health and safety plan for restarting baseball. We don’t much about what exactly is in the union’s notes, but know that they cover the following topics, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic:
The league sent players a 67-page proposed health and safety manual previously, so this amounts to the players union’s feedback. Some of the tidbits in the MLB plan included banning high-fives and spitting, keeping lockers six feet part, various testing and temperature-taking protocols and stopping players from showering at the ballpark.
That last part, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, illustrates the type of back-and-forth we can expect here. Players want to be able to shower at the stadium, especially before going on the road, Sherman reports, and want to use equipment like hydrotherapy pools.
None of that is the big issue, though. Money will be the sticking point. But Sherman says the two sides are hoping to agree on the health/safety side first, because if they can’t do that, then the money doesn’t matter.
Debating through media, but no next meeting set
Words are flying between MLB and the players association over the need to renegotiate financial terms for a shortened season, but the next step toward deciding whether baseball will actually return in early July is unclear.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there was no next meeting scheduled between the two parties.
Instead, any “negotiations” appear to be taking place through public statements. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman published an internal MLB email Tuesday that appeared to back up the league’s contention that it was understood that any attempt to play without fans in the stands would be cause to renegotiate the economic framework of the season.
Though the league presented detailed health protocols to the players association, any resumption of play would also need economic details hammered out. The league has indicated it will need to negotiate lower player salaries to make playing in empty ballparks economically feasible. The union contends that a March agreement, struck shortly after league activities were suspended for the coronavirus pandemic, decided the matter, setting prorated salaries based on games played.
As Yahoo Sports’ Hannah Keyser detailed last week, the conflicting interpretations of that document’s language could be a determining factor in whether baseball’s team owners (who stand to lose great sums of revenue) and the players (who would be playing through the pandemic’s risk) can forge a path toward playing this year at all.
Negotiations to restart the season between MLB, led by commissioner Rob Manfred, and the MLBPA, led by Tony Clark, appear slow and contentious. (Photo by LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images)
Sherman’s report sparked a response from the union. In a statement to the Post, MLBPA senior director of collective bargaining Bruce Meyer dinged MLB for not making a formal economic proposal — despite reports it envisioned a revenue sharing model. He also questioned the owners’ need to reduce player salaries beyond the prorated pay and said MLB has not provided financial documents the union requested. Several public analysts have raised doubts about whether an MLB presentation, reported by the Associated Press, distorts or overstates the financial losses owners would suffer in the shortened, empty-stadium season.
MLB responded bitterly to Meyer’s statement, also through Sherman’s article, saying that the players association “publicly rejected a potential league proposal to share all revenues equally with players before such a proposal was made to it.”
MLB proposes medical protocols to players
The league has presented a 67-page document outlining its proposed medical protocols, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. Here are some of the key points from the report, beginning with the testing guidelines.
Regular testing for all players, managers, coaches and umpires, plus a limited number of essential staff who come into close proximity with players.
MLB will monitor developments in testing and attempt to use the least invasive and fastest methods that are commercially available without adversely impacting public health needs.
All players must undergo “Intake Screening” upon arriving at spring training.
Individuals who are tested must self-quarantine at his or her spring-training residency until the results of the testing are reported. Any individual who tests positive is instructed to self-quarantine and gets treated accordingly.
Asymptomatic individuals are monitored daily through symptom screens, temperature checks and frequent testing.
Before entering a club facility, individuals will get their temperatures checked and complete a short symptom and exposure questionnaire.
Any individual who reports COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature above 100 during a home screening may not enter club facility, and instead must immediately self-isolate and be directed to team physician.
Each club must develop procedures for isolating, transporting, testing and treating individuals who display potential symptoms.
The document also touches on other key issues, which include as spring training and travel protocols. Here are the key takeaways there.
Spring training is limited to 50 players per club.
Workouts staggered throughout the day to avoid overcrowding.
Report dates will be staggered and the camp structure will be divided into three phases led by return of pitchers and catchers.
Minimum standards will be maintained for cleaning and disinfecting the clubhouse and other areas of the facility.
Communal water and sports drink coolers/jugs are prohibited.
Here’s a big one that’s been discussed a lot.
No spitting, using smokeless tobacco and sunflower seeds in restricted areas.
Meetings will take place virtually when possible.
Lockers should be six feet apart. For some facilities, that may require erecting a temporary clubhouse or locker facilities in unused stadium space.
Showering will be discouraged at club facilities.
Rather than an exchange of lineup cards, lineups will be placed into an application.
Non-playing personnel must wear masks at all times in dugout.
As for travel:
Ride-share services like Lyft and Uber are discouraged.
Whenever possible, teams will be expected to fly into smaller airports.
Members of the traveling party are not to leave the hotel unless they receive advance approval from team personnel.
On the road, the players should essentially isolate at hotels.
It’s also noted that MLB plans to develop a COVID-19 education program that the players, umpires and all team employees will be required to complete before receiving access to the facilities.
These are just a few brief snippets from the extensive proposal. The players have not yet given a formal response.
Players request financial documents from MLB
Lawyers for the MLB Players Association have asked Major League Baseball and its owners to submit financial documents as they seek more details into the industry’s finances, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
The players had previously agreed to accept prorated salaries based on the number of games played in 2020, but a new battle is brewing after the owners approved a new proposal that asks the players to accept a 50-50 split of revenues. Players union executive director Tony Clark quickly called the proposal a "non-starter" and labeled it the latest bid by the owners to slyly institute a salary cap.
Before agreeing to any deal, the players clearly want more information regarding the league’s revenue and whether the potential losses this season would make a significant reduction in salary necessary.
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell stated Wednesday night that playing for anything less than his full $7 million salary is “just not worth it.” The 2018 Cy Young award winner cited safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic and the previous agreement regarding prorated salaries.
Snell added: “For me to take a pay cut is not happening, because the risk is through the roof.”
Health and safety issues have been leading the negotiations so far, but based on the league’s proposal and the players’ response, the money issue may end up being the most complicated hurdle.
Owners propose non-rapid testing, limited quarantines, and no spitting when MLB returns
Health and safety measures were the primary topic of discussion when MLB and the MLB Players Association met on Tuesday, and now we have some idea of what measures MLB proposed to the union. According to Jared Diamond and Louise Radnofsky of The Wall Street Journal, MLB presented the union with proposals on testing, what would happen if someone tested positive, and other social distancing procedures that could be put into place.
Testing: According to The Wall Street Journal, MLB proposed that players, coaches, umpires, and other staff be tested more than weekly, but less than daily. MLB reportedly won’t use rapid-response tests for routine tests of game-involved personnel, since the rapid-response tests (which give results in 1-4 hours) are harder to come by. MLB would use those tests on those who are showing symptoms or have been exposed.
The bulk of the league’s routine tests would deliver results in about 24 hours. MLB believes it can execute these tests, which would be done on upwards of 1,000 people several times a week, without taking tests away from frontline workers, and would not continue with this plan if tests for frontline workers would be impacted. All personnel would also be expected to submit to frequent temperature checks and report any symptoms immediately.
Positive tests: Despite the risks in testing people less than daily with tests that take 24 hours to develop (which could lead to widespread exposure and an outbreak), MLB does not want a positive test to shut down the league once it restarts. The Wall Street Journal reported that a player who tests positive would be removed from the general population, but his teammates would not be required to quarantine. Instead they would be tested and “watched closely.”
Social distancing: Bullpens, locker rooms, training rooms, treatment rooms, and other team facilities would be rearranged to accommodate social distancing. Spitting in dugouts (or anywhere else) would no longer be allowed. High-fives and mound visits would also be banned. Relievers might sit in the otherwise empty stands when not warming up.
MLB is also reportedly exploring options for players, coaches, and umpires who are older, immunocompromised, or have pre-existing conditions, since that makes them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19. It’s possible that they would be allowed to sit out the season due to the elevated health risk.
First MLB, union meeting focuses on health and safety measures
In the first formal dialogue intended to address the details of opening the baseball season in early July, MLB and the players union spent much of Tuesday addressing health and safety protocols and contingencies as they relate to the coronavirus, according to sources.
While the league did present an economic status report, sources said, it did not propose a new salary structure for players. That proposal is expected to seek a 50-50 revenue-sharing agreement between owners and players. Union leaders have said they would reject such a proposal and instead abide by the terms of a late-March agreement, which they believe established a system of prorated salaries.
That showdown did not come to pass Tuesday.
Many players have publicly expressed concerns for themselves, their families and others — coaches, staffs and stadium workers among them — if they were to return ahead of the national curve for testing and care.
The league expressed its preference for playing regular season games in teams’ home ballparks. Alternative sites would be chosen in the event certain cities were not in a position to host those games.
Several active players, members of the union’s executive subcommittee, participated in Tuesday’s video conference. The timing for the next meeting has not been established. - Tim Brown
Owners approve proposal to restart MLB in July
Major League Baseball owners took the first step Monday in restarting games this summer. They voted to approve a proposed plan that would start “around Fourth of July weekend without fans,” according to the Associated Press, with spring training starting in mid-June.
Getting owners approval is only half the battle. The players union would also need to agree to this plan. MLB officials are scheduled to present their plan to the MLBPA on Tuesday. That part of the negotiations is expected to be more difficult, as a proposed revenue-sharing system is reportedly expected to be a sticking point between the union and ownership.
Other details in the proposed MLB plan, according to the AP:
• Each team would play about 82 games against teams in their own division and nearby interleague opponents.
• 14 teams would make the postseason, as there would be four wild card teams in each league.
• The All-Star Game in Los Angeles would likely be canceled.
• Teams would play at their home ballparks unless not allowed for medical or political reasons. Their back-up locations would be spring-training stadiums or neutral sites. The Blue Jays may have to play in Florida instead of Toronto, the AP reports.
• A universal DH is a possibility under the plan.
• MLB rosters would expand from 26 to 30 players and teams would likely have an NFL practice squad-like collection of minor leaguers to pull from.
Again, all this needs to be approved by the players union, so this is only the first step in a negotiation toward restarting MLB.
The biggest hurdle will be finding an agreement on player pay. The AP reports that owners want players to get a 50-50 split of revenues during the regular season and postseason. Such a revenue split would be new for baseball and could complicate negotiations.
How much MLB revenue comes from attendance?
Reports indicate that MLB will propose a revenue-sharing plan for the 2020 season, in which players would receive a certain cut of the league’s revenue in a one-year iteration similar to the NBA or NFL’s usual system.
A source told Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown that Major League Baseball will enter the negotiations with numbers showing that fans attending games typically accounts for 51 percent of local revenue and 40 percent of the league’s total revenue.
This would be used as evidence the league needs to alter a March agreement to pay players their salaries prorated for the number of regular season games that occur.
How this all started
The league canceled spring training and suspended its season on March 12 as the coronavirus crisis gripped the country. Later in March, MLB and the players association agreed to a series of stipulations to temporarily deal with the financial ramifications of the upended season. Players secured assurances about service time, which determines when a player reaches free agency. The league advanced portions of player salaries, a sum that won’t exceed $170 million, and that players will keep if there is no season. In return, the players agreed not to sue for full salaries in the event of a total cancellation.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - MAY 08: A general view of Guaranteed Rate Feld, home of the Chicago White Sox, on May 08, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The 2020 Major League Baseball season is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
That March agreement also laid out a plan for prorated player salaries in a shortened season, but reports indicate the league is seeking a different salary structure now that fans are unlikely to be permitted for the foreseeable future.
The 2020 MLB draft was cut to five rounds in another cost-cutting measure. The union rejected a proposal for a 10-round draft that capped the number of undrafted players teams could sign.
Multiple plans for restarting the season have been discussed internally and speculated about externally. Some ideas floated concepts for playing the season at spring training sites or in a small number of local hubs to limit travel and exposure, but the most recent reports on league thinking indicates it prefers to host games in home stadiums.
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