Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred may have no choice but to implement a shortened season of at least 50 games without the player union’s approval if the two sides can’t reach an agreement within a week, three Major League Baseball executives told USA TODAY Sports.
The executives requested anonymity because they were unauthorized to speak publicly with the sensitivity of the negotiations.
The Major League Baseball Players Association rejected MLB’s latest proposal on Tuesday and countered with an 89-game schedule — starting July 10 and ending Oct. 11 — that would pay players their full pro-rated salary, while also agreeing to an expanded postseason the next two seasons.
MLB is expected to swiftly reject the union’s proposal with the players refusing to accept a paycut from their pro-rated salaries. MLB made a formal offer on Mondayto guarantee players 75% of their prorated salaries in a 76-game regular season — ending Sept. 27 — if the postseason is not canceled, and 50% with no postseason.
“If we don’t get an agreement real soon, this is going to be ugly,’’ one high-ranking executive said. “Real ugly. And it’s just going to get worse.’’
The fear without an agreement between the two sides is that the several of the game’s biggest stars may decide to simply sit out this season, believing it’s not worth the health risk while receiving only about 33% of their annual salary to play this season.
One owner says he has already been informed that several of his players indicated they wouldn’t play this year under those conditions, forfeiting their salary this season while not receiving service time.
In MLB’s last proposal Monday to the union it permitted players to opt out of the season, with only players considered “high risk’’ to COVID-19 still paid while receiving service time. Yet, with no agreement, perhaps no player who opts out get paid?
Major League Baseball is requesting permission from the union to expand the postseason from 10 teams to 16, with potentially 65 playoff games, worth about $1 billion in TV revenue. Yet, without the union’s approval, they would be relegated back to their old format. It would eliminate an extra round and now would have no more than 33 postseason games, and keep their postseason share at $777 million.
The union also had promised to participate in postseason All-Star and home-run derby events, while permitting to be more frequently mic’d up for clubs’ broadcasts. Those enhancements would also disappear if no agreement is reached.
Oh, and considering all of the bitterness and hostility between the sides during this coronavirus pandemic, do you really believe things will go smoothly next year when they must reach an agreement by Dec. 1, 2021 on a new collective bargaining agreement?
The union has been setting aside money from players’ licensing checks for a reason, preparing for a potential work stoppage next summer.
Yep, this could be the sequel of the summer of 1994, only this time, without Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive playing streak and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home-run chase to save it.
It would virtually assure another 18 months of hostility. The free-agent market could collapse with owners saying their losses would prevent them from bidding on players, no matter how glamorous their numbers look on their bubble-gum cards.
Fans, so disgusted by everyone’s behavior, could turn their back on the sport and stay away for good, even when ballparks open, deciding to spend their money on other entertainment.
There will be baseball, with an agreement or not, with Manfred having the power to implement a season with players receiving their full pro-rated salary.
He could attempt to appease the union by playing at least 70 games. If the season started July 10, and ended Sept. 27 before the postseason, there still would be 80 days on the calendar.
Yet, the owners prefer a shorter season, as few as 48 games, insisting they will lose $640 million per team for each regular-season game played, wanting to conclude the regular-season by Sept. 27.
The two sides have perhaps another week of negotiations before it’s in Manfred’s hands.
He has given the two sides 76 days to work out an agreement, and although the two sides have made movement, they still are barely closer to reaching a deal than at the start of the pandemic.
Manfred will make sure there will be baseball.
He has the power to do that.
He just can’t control how anyone will think about the game again.
Sources from: USA Today