With the MLBPA and the owners far apart on a deal to bring baseball back, the owners have come up with a backup plan for the return of America’s game.
In a report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the owners are considering a super-condensed season — between 50-60 games — agreeing to pay the players their full pro-rated salary that the two sides agreed to back in March. The difference between this situation and the other proposed deals that have been made by the owners and the MLBPA is this is the last resort that the owners feel like they can mandate based on their original agreement back in March.
Most recently, the players offered the owners a deal of a 114-game schedule, paying them their full pro-rated salaries, which would be over 70% of their original salaries. Their proposal also included a $100 million deferral during Spring Training, an extended playoff in both 2020 and 2021, as well as the option for players that do not want to participate to opt-out. This new 50-60 game plan would only pay the players 30% of their salaries on a pro-rated scale.
The agreement in March appears to give Manfred the power to enact this plan without confirming with the players. Here’s an excerpt from Passan’s report:
Language in the March agreement appears to give commissioner Rob Manfred the right to deliver a season schedule after “good faith” discussions between the league and the union.
“Based on that feedback received from the Players Association,” the agreement reads, “the Office of the Commissioner will construct and provide to the Players Association, as promptly as possible, a proposed 2020 championship season and postseason schedule (or multiple schedule options) using best efforts to play as many games as possible, while taking into account player safety and health, rescheduling needs, competitive considerations, stadium availability, and the economic feasibility of various alternatives.”
There hasn’t been a ton of reaction from the players yet, but when there is, I imagine they won’t be too happy. From the outset, they have wanted more games, which is why they pushed for a 114-game schedule instead of the 82-game season the owners proposed initially. Now, it could be shortened even more.
The plan going forward is for the two sides to continue to work towards an agreement. But this is the last resort Commissioner Manfred has up his sleeve if the players are unwilling to compromise, and it will give the owners even more leverage in negotiations. However, from a fans perspective — it looks almost certain that there will be baseball. We just don’t know how the season will be formatted.