In the latest MLB news, team owners have approved Rob Manfred’s plan to bring baseball back in July. Now the hard part… winning over the actual players.
Tuesday is slated to be a rather busy MLB news day, for the league and the MLBPA are expected to start negotiations regarding a return-to-play proposal which was approved by team owners Monday evening. Such proposals have been common over these last few months, but this appears to be the league’s final push. No more talking about it — MLB is determined to be the very first American sport back.
However, the easy part — persuading team owners — is over with. It will almost certainly be a much harder and more drawn-out process when it comes to reaching an agreement with Tony Clark (MLBPA President) and the players. Although, here’s what commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB team owners are expected to bring forth to the player’s union on Tuesday (per ESPN’s Jeff Passan):
- An expansion of playoff teams from 10 to 14
- An 82-game season
- The use of home stadiums in areas that have local and state government approval
- A so-called spring training 2.0 that begins in June, with a season set for early July
- A universal designated hitter
- Geographical schedules, in which teams play only in-division opponents and interleague opponents in a similar area (i.e., American League Central teams play AL Central and National League Central teams)
- A 30-man roster with a taxi squad that would have upward of 50 players available
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The details look solid, though for those of us looking forward to some much-needed creativity may perhaps be a bit disappointed about the decision to scrap the recently proposed layout of three, 10-team divisions arranged regionally (West, Central, East), which I wrote about on Monday. For a Braves fan like myself, that modified Central division sure looked favorable for the back-to-back NL East champs.
Also, it’s safe to say that the expansion of the postseason and the universal DH were two things widely expected at this point, as well as the expanding of active rosters, so I don’t believe there will be any hang-ups pertaining to those specific details.
However, as our own David Hill wrote about Tuesday, unfortunately, there’s bound to be more fighting between the league and players as it relates to money. NBC Sports perhaps said it best a few days ago when quoting an unnamed source that stated that “there is going to be a war over any 2020 season plan if the owners demand further pay cuts.”
Well… further pay cuts are exactly what the owners will be trying for on Tuesday. Consider Ken Rosenthal’s (The Athletic) report from this past weekend:
“Because games, at least initially, will be played without fans, the players would be asked to accept a further reduction in pay, most likely by agreeing to a set percentage of revenues for this season only. The idea behind such a plan, from the league’s perspective, would be to protect the players and owners against the economic uncertainty created by the virus. The players agreed in March to prorate their salaries in a shortened season. Those salaries cover the regular season only, while postseason shares are based upon gate receipts. If the players agreed to a set percentage of revenue, they also would share any additional national TV money generated during the postseason.”
That all sounds fair, right? Except, the players already agreed to prorated salaries back in March, as part of the $170 million MLB agreed to front for April and May, with an additional agreement promising players their salaries on a prorated basis if the season were to return. According to FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards, that compromise in March is already costing the players more than $1.6 billion in 2020 salaries — a loss that almost certainly won’t be improved upon by them agreeing to some form of revenue sharing. As Edwards discussed at FanGraphs on Monday, calculating what exactly constitutes as revenue sharing during this unique season is “nearly impossible”.
Of all the details proposed by MLB, and agreed upon by team owners on Monday, there still seems to be quite the disconnect with the players when it comes to pay, and sadly it doesn’t need to be that way. Team owners are getting in the way, once again attempting to squeeze as much money as they can from the players.
If that doesn’t change soon, then Tuesday’s meeting with the MLBPA will be just another failed attempt to bring back a sport literally right on the cusp of successfully planning a return.
Stay tuned for more MLB news as it comes.