The 2020 Major League Baseball season could be even shorter than expected. With negotiations between the league and the union stalled, commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners have indicated a willingness to unilaterally start a season without reaching an agreement on its length. While the union is in favor of an 82-game season, the owners are now focused on a 48-game regular season, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
That would be a massive difference from a normal season — in which every team plays 162 games. While it’s possible for the league to hold more than 48 games in 2020, the owners are concerned about how much money they would lose during a longer season.
The owners claim they would lose $640,000 per game in a 2020 season without fans. The union has asked the owners to verify that claim.
If that number is accurate, the owners are saying they would be willing to take a $460.8M loss during a 48-game season in 2020. Under the players’ 82-game proposal, teams would lose a little under $11 million over a full season. Again, that figure is dependent on the owners’ figures being accurate.
While that sounds like a lot of money, it’s nothing for baseball. In a normal 162-game season, the Houston Astros were set to pay outfielder Josh Reddick $13 million in 2020.
The owners are open to a longer season, but only if the players take an additional pay cut. If the league is willing to lose $460 million, that would require players to take an additional 17.2 percent pay cut. In March, both sides agreed the players would receive prorated salaries based on games played. The league believes that agreement can be altered now that the season won’t be played with fans in the stands.
Fans may actually be allowed to attend games in Texas, and MLB is reportedly willing to allow local governments to decide whether fans can attend games in 2020. If more states follow Texas’ lead, that would complicate negotiations for the owners.
No matter how the eventual schedule is set up, the league is hoping the regular season can end around Sept. 27. The clock is ticking on how many games it can fit in before that date. The players and union reportedly had a June 1 soft deadline to come up with an agreement.
They’ve already missed that date, and — given the contentious nature of the negotiations — it could be much longer before a plan is firmed up.
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