Under the agreement the owners and players made in March, Major League Baseball has the ability to implement as long or short of a regular season as it wants. There are some notable conditions, though, including: The league must pay players full prorated salaries, it must act in good faith to play as many games as possible, and commissioner Rob Manfred would need approval from 23 of the game’s 30 owners. It’s in question whether he would receive that amount of support, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic report (subscription link).
“There are definitely more than eight owners who don’t want to play,” one player agent told Rosenthal and Drellich.
It may be a moot point. Manfred is not required to force the start of a season, and according to Rosenthal and Drellich, it doesn’t appear his office will do so over fears of a potential billion-dollar grievance from the union. In a letter to the union Monday, deputy commissioner Dan Halem left the players with three choices: 1. Waive your right to file a grievance in regards to the March agreement; 2. Go to arbitration; 3. Keep negotiating.
A quick arbitration case may not be desirable to the union or even possible because of the money at stake and the number of witnesses who would be involved, per Rosenthal and Drellich. That means the only chance for a season may be for the owners and players to finally put their vast differences aside and hammer out a deal that works for both sides. It’s difficult to imagine that happening with the way talks have gone so far. Both sides have accused the other of acting in bad faith during their negotiations, which took yet another negative turn Monday when Manfred did a 180 from last week and expressed doubt in regards to a potential 2020 season.
Manfred’s comments led to a heated response from union chief Tony Clark, who said, “Players are disgusted that after Rob Manfred unequivocally told Players and fans that there would “100%” be a 2020 season, he has decided to go back on his word and is now threatening to cancel the entire season.”
Many of those players, including Nationals ace and influential union member Max Scherzer, joined Clark in voicing their disgust Monday.