Major League Baseball is reportedly hoping to delay the 2021 regular season until May, which would set the stage for a second consecutive shortened campaign. However, the MLBPA fully plans on returning to a 162-game schedule next year, Evan Drellich of The Athletic reports.
In a statement issued Tuesday, MLBPA senior director of collective bargaining and legal Bruce Meyer said (via Drellich): “We’ve seen anonymous quotes attributed to club sources casting doubt on the start date and length of the season. To be clear, and as we’ve made clear to the league, players are planning on showing up for spring training on time for a full 162-game season as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and the league’s previously issued schedule.”
At least a couple of the “anonymous quotes” Meyer referred to came from owners, including one who expects a delayed spring training and perhaps a 130 game-season. Depending on whether there are no fans (or at least fewer fans) in the stands next year, that may benefit the owners. However, it’s not going to fly for the union, as players are already coming off a season in which they lost 102 games and had to accept prorated salaries for the 60 they did play. While the union isn’t necessarily against revising the schedule, per Drellich, that’s only if the league manages to play a full 162 in 2021 or if each player at least earns a whole season’s pay.
The league has not yet proposed a truncated schedule to the players, according to Drellich, who notes that MLB has no right to impose a season length under the collective bargaining agreement. As Drellich points, though, there are other complicating factors, including whether Florida and Arizona municipalities will even allow spring training to begin on time. MLB could also suspend the season because of a national emergency, but that would surely lead to more strife between the league and union. That’s the last thing either side needs with the CBA set to expire in December 2021.