10:09pm: The league would have been willing to push back the season without expanded playoffs and the universal DH had the MLBPA made a counterproposal, Heyman tweets. The union declined to do so, as Heyman notes the players would rather start the season on time because of concerns over injuries.
8:48pm: Major League Baseball proposed a 154-game regular season for 2021 to the MLBPA over the weekend, but the union announced that it has rejected the offer. MLB’s offer would have meant delaying the start of spring training and the season by about a month because of COVID-19 concerns, though the players would have received full pay.
In explaining why it turned down MLB’s plan, the union said, “Although Player salaries would not be initially prorated to a 154-game regular season, MLB’s proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interruptions, or cancellation of the season.”
The league did offer to remove language that could have allowed commissioner Rob Manfred to cancel or postpone the campaign, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. An expanded postseason “presumably” was on the table, too, per Brown, though Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported earlier Monday that the players have not been in favor of that. This may also eliminate the possibility of a universal designated hitter in 2021, which would greatly affect such free agents as Nelson Cruz and Marcell Ozuna, who have been awaiting clarity on whether the National League will keep the position for a second straight year.
“In light of the MLBPA’s rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon, we are moving forward and instructing our Clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the Championship Season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols,” the league said in its own statement.
As of now, camp’s scheduled to begin Feb. 17 and the season is slated to start April 1. A full season would be a welcome development for baseball fans after the league’s teams played just 60 regular-season games apiece in 2020, though it’s alarming that MLB and the MLBPA continue to fight over key issues. The two sides have had a contentious relationship over the past couple of years, and with the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire in December, an eventual work stoppage looks all the more realistic.