JUNE 2: While the league may implement a 50- or 60-game schedule, the union could object to it based on March’s agreement, which says the commissioner’s office must put forth its “best efforts to play as many games as possible,” per Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic (subscription required). Regardless, the two sides aren’t making much progress, nor have they scheduled further negotiations. As Rosenthal and Drellich point out, if MLB and the MLBPA are going to meet in the middle for an 82-game season that starts July 4, time’s running out. For that to happen, the players would have to be back in spring training by the middle of this month.
JUNE 1, 10:09pm: The two sides remain far apart in talks, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports in a piece that’s worth reading in full. In regards to the counter-proposal the union made over the weekend, deputy commissioner Dan Halem told Sherman via text: “The one piece of good news out of [Sunday’s] meeting is that Tony Clark acknowledged that the March Agreement contemplated another negotiation over player salaries if the 2020 season could not be played in front of fans. We were concerned based on media reports if players knew that. Tony told us the players were aware that the March Agreement did not resolve the issue of player salaries in a season without fans. And he said the players‘ decision to accept nothing less than 100 percent of their prorated salaries was due to the risks of playing the season, not because they were promised it in the March 26 agreement.” Clark fired back in an email to Sherman, though, calling Halem’s quote “purposefully misleading and inaccurate.” Clark added that MLB is trying to “negotiate through the media instead of focusing on how to bring baseball back to its fans.”
6:58pm: A season with roughly 50 games would be “a last resort” for the league, Passan writes. The hope remains that MLB and the MLBPA will reach an agreement to avoid that outcome.
4:48pm: The MLBPA and MLB haven’t been able to see eye to eye on a potential 2020 season as they negotiate during this pandemic. In the latest developments, the union proposed a 114-game season this past weekend, though it seems the league is open to a much shorter campaign. MLB plans to propose a smaller schedule – perhaps one with as few as 50 to 60 games – per Jeff Passan of ESPN, but the league would give players a full portion of their prorated salaries.
Whether this plan will appeal to the players remains to be seen, as they wouldn’t come close to their normal salaries in such an abbreviated season. However, as Jon Heyman of MLB Network notes, commissioner Rob Manfred has the right to implement a schedule that’s as long or short as he wants based on the agreement the owners and players made back in March. As of now, Manfred and the league are still hoping to reach some sort of compromise that works out for both sides, Heyman suggests, but Passan adds that MLB is prepared to go with a schedule length of its choosing if it’s unable to find common ground with the players.
Season length aside, it’s notable that the league’s willing to give players their prorated salaries without further reductions in pay. The league presented its latest economic proposal last week – one that didn’t go over well with players, including Nationals ace and influential union member Max Scherzer, who noted the players had already agreed to take lower salaries in the form of prorated salaries and weren’t open to accepting even less money. A 50- to 60-game schedule obviously would not be ideal for the players from a financial standpoint, but if they’re not on board with this plan, perhaps they and the owners will be able to meet in the middle on schedule length in the coming weeks and get a 2020 campaign underway.