The MLB Players have countered, but once again the league is expected to reject its plan.
Optimism regarding an MLB season has taken quite a hit in the last few weeks, but on the eve of the sport’s draft-day, the MLB Players Union decided to come back with an offer of its own.
Maintaining its interest in demanding full prorated player salaries, the MLBPA sent in a proposal on Tuesday night that features an 89-game regular season starting on July 10 and ending on October 11 — a 25-game decrease compared to the union’s most recent proposal (a savings of nearly $630 million in player salaries, according to ESPN‘s Jeff Passan).
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The plan also includes two years of expanded playoffs of up to eight teams per league, as well as a flat-rate fee of $50 million in the event that the postseason is canceled because of a return of COVID-19. Players who opt out of playing this season and are deemed high-risk — a determination done by the MLB players in conjunction with chosen medical experts — will be allowed full-service time and pay, although those with no high-risk concerns may opt-out without service or salary. The union is willing to provide broadcast enhancements as well, which in past discussions included players wearing mics while playing and various other things usually saved for the All-Star game each season.
Overall — despite an expected rejection from MLB — it’s a rather solid proposal by the union. Unlike the league’s prior proposals, the MLBPA seems willing to give a little ground, instead of stubbornly asking for the same concessions over and over. Going from 114 games to 89, and the aforementioned $600 million+ savings is certainly not nothing. And it only seems fair that the players are due something for risking their health playing a regular-season only for the playoffs to potentially be canceled.
However, even though the union appears to be willing to reach an appropriate compromise, this plan will almost certainly be turned down. According to Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich at The Athletic, one ownership source called the MLBPA’s proposal on Tuesday a “waste of time”, most likely due to the proposed length of season as well as the full prorated salaries. MLB and team owners have already made it known that a regular-season surpassing September 27 is a no go, not to mention the fact that MLB’s latest plan included only a guarantee of 50% prorated salaries (with the other 25% coming into play if the Playoffs are completed). Any way you slice it, the Players Union and the league are still pretty far apart.
Fortunately, as time continues to run out both sides will be extremely limited in what they can feasibly propose, meaning if nothing else hopefully a verdict will begin to present itself simply from a lack of time. There are only so many days between now and the end of September, and if something isn’t agreed upon by next week then attempting to play anything remotely close to 80 games this season will be impossible.
In their piece Tuesday night, Rosenthal and Drellich suggest that perhaps both sides can find common ground on a season in the range of 60 to 70 games, given the specific details for that length of the season could essentially split the middle in terms of what both the league and union are after. Team owners would be giving up a little more than their most-recent offering, while the players would be doing the same at an almost equal amount (at least relative to what has been discussed thus far).
One thing that both sides should agree on, though — which was included by the MLBPA in its proposal on Tuesday — is that minor league players deserve some help financially and that something can be done by the union and league to contribute towards social injustice in our country. The union’s plan calls for both the players and the league to jointly contribute $5 million to provide assistance to minor leaguers and charitable organizations focusing on social justice issues. Even as tone-deaf as MLB has been over the last few months, balking at that part of the union’s plan would be utterly heartless.
Even so, committing to make a charitable donation might be the sole positive from Tuesday’s proposal. Because if we’ve learned anything from the owners and MLB Players Union’s negotiations, it’s that neither side seems interested in giving up any ground at all. Although if either party wishes for at least a half-season in 2020, an actual agreement better come in the next several days.