Major League Baseball owners vote to proceed with 2020 season under March agreement

Wednesday, 24 Jun, 2020

"We await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule", the union said.

Now the league has chose to hold the season on its own terms.

According to Nightengale, the recent uptick in COVID-19 infections will push the start of the season back to July 26 at the earliest, with spring training resuming no earlier than June 29. They are under no obligation to agree to expanded playoffs, the universal DH or any of the other revenue-generating items that were proposed.

Assuming MLB and the MLBPA manage to agree on health and safety protocols in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - Manfred recently indicated the sides were close - the majority of teams would hold camps at home ballparks. By choosing a season of 60 games, the league will pack in about as many games as it can through September 27, the league's self-imposed cutoff for the regular season to end.

The 2020 MLB season has been on indefinite hold since mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic forced a stoppage in play across US sports leagues.

Manfred and the owners shot down the union's offer last week, saying 60 games is the most they will play in 2020, citing scheduling as one of the main reasons why.

Players want 70 games and $275 million more than teams are offering. Players would not receive forgiveness on the $170 million salary advance they received as part of the March agreement and would get no money from the postseason. Even some perfectly healthy players, including those whose wives are due to give birth, could balk at playing amid a pandemic for what amounts to around a third of their salary. When and if the league takes the field, it will do so with both sides having left items on the table and inflicting damage on their sport as they let the golden opportunity of being the first team sport to return get away.

Players refused to budge from their insistence on prorated salaries, and Major League Baseball finally agreed to that last week during the one-on-one meeting between Manfred and Clark.

A one-sided imposed season always loomed as the league's last resort, and Manfred (who has played a key role in maintaining 25 years of labor peace since the devastating 1994 strike) continued to seek a negotiated deal.

Major League Baseball has insisted the season must end by September 27, with the postseason contained to October, to guard against a second wave of the novel coronavirus wiping out the playoffs.

Manfred is expected to set the season at between 50 and 60 games, with players receiving their full salaries on a prorated basis. If there is a season, Major League Baseball games will be played without fans in attendance for the foreseeable future.

Had the MLBPA accepted the owners' proposal, the union would have forfeited the ability to file a grievance against the league. Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021, and the virus damaged the already deteriorated relationship and became just another of the financial issues that point toward a spring training lockout ahead of the 2022 season.