MLB 2020 season update: Where things stand with owners set to make new economic proposal to players

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Major League Baseball and the players union are currently in talks concerning a plan to return to play — and a deal for the 2020 season could be agreed to this week. MLB was supposed to hold Opening Day two months ago, but the spread of COVID-19 forced the league to halt operations during spring training in mid-March. 

The league and the Players Association are now trying to come to an agreement for a shortened season. The two sides began talks nearly two weeks ago. A condensed campaign would likely start in July, have an expanded playoff format and feature a long list of safety protocols for both MLB players and team personnel. 

Here are some notable components of the proposal approved by team owners and sent to the players union:

  • 82-game regional schedule and universal DH
  • 30-man active rosters with a 20-player taxi squad
  • 14 teams in the postseason with games played in home cities in October
  • 50/50 revenue split for players and owners

As the talks continue and more information becomes public, we’ve opted to construct a timeline of consequential news and events surrounding these talks. Below you’ll find all you need to know about the state of the negotiations, and how they got there.

May 24: Players reportedly expected to make counter offer

While the MLBPA waits for the owners’ next proposal, Chuck Garfien of NBC Sports Chicago reports that players are expected to offer to defer some of the salary owed them in 2020 until later years. Doing so would provide teams some of the financial relief that they seek in these negotiations and is another signal that neither side is yet entrenched in current negotiating positions. 

Meantime, Charles Gasparino of Fox Business Network tweets that MLB owners have scheduled a Tuesday meeting with commissioner Rob Manfred at 1 p.m. ET in advance of presenting their second proposal to players. 

May 22: MLB to present new economic proposal on Tuesday

Players not surprisingly were unimpressed the the owners’ opening offer that entailed further cutting salaries in response to the likelihood that fans will not be in attendance for at least part of the year. Players have already agreed to pro-rate their salaries based on the number of games played, but MLB is looking for further concessions. 

On that front, source tells Evan Drellich of The Athletic that owners will present players with a revised economic proposal on Tuesday. Presumably, owners will move off their original proposal, but the extent to which they do will of course determine whether this latest offer leads directly to an agreement. Teams will need at least two or three weeks to prepare for an early July start to the season, so the window of negotiation isn’t a wide one. Some forward momentum toward a deal is needed, and this second proposal could be just that.

While matters such as the structure of the season and the safety measures that will be put into place must also be agreed to, the economic issues figure to be toughest negotiation and have the greatest potential to be a genuine impasse to a deal. 

May 21: Union responds to MLB proposal

The MLBPA responded to the league’s 67-page safety protocol, taking the next formal step in the negotiating process. According to Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal, the union’s counter-proposal included notes on testing frequency, protections for high-risk players and their families, and sanitization protocols. 

The MLBPA issued the following statement Thursday afternoon, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

“The union has spent the past several days carefully reviewing the manual and gathering feedback from its medical experts and players across the league, including a 3 1/2 hour video conference with 100-plus player leaders on Monday night.”

May 20: MLB presents formal proposal to players

Sources tell Bob Nightengale of USA Today that commissioner Rob Manfred and MLB attorneys plan to present their formal economic plan to the union by Friday. In that presentation, MLB will further detail the financial losses the league claims it will incur during the 2020 season. The league previously claimed that teams would suffer a combined loss of roughly $4 billion with no fans in attendance if players declined to accept another salary reduction. However, MLB’s accounting was dubious at best

May 20: Players reviewing safety proposal

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, MLBPA head Tony Clark led a Monday conference call to discuss with players MLB’s proposed safety protocols for the 2020 season. The call included more than 130 MLB players with all 30 teams being represented. According to Sherman, the call spanned more than three hours and included plenty of questions and recommendations from players.

May 19: Hedges ‘very confident’ season will happen

San Diego Padres catcher and union rep Austin Hedges is optimistic about an agreement happening. “Over the last 48 hours, it really feels like we’re getting some stuff done,” he told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Tuesday. Hedges believes the players and owners need to recognize that both sides will have to sacrifice in 2020 for the long-term health of the league. If that happens, then they should be able to find enough common ground to make a deal.

May 18: Owners claim they’ll lose $640,000 per game

Baseball’s owners claim they’ll be losing $640,000 per game without fans in the seats during an 82-game season. There’s no way of verifying those numbers, given the closed-book nature of professional sports accounting. Still, the above figure is one of the reasons the owners are pushing for players to agree to further pay reductions as part of a 50-50 revenue split.

May 16: Safety protocol proposal leaks

Player compensation has been identified as one of the two big issues the sides have to resolve. The other is the safety of the players and other essential personnel. Over the weekend, The Athletic published highlights from a 67-page safety and testing protocol the league submitted to the union. The memo included MLB’s plans for testing, travel, and other pertinent topics.

May 14: Snell reacts on Twitch

Tampa Bay Rays left-handed Blake Snell made headlines by publicly reacting to the league’s proposed 50-50 revenue split during a Twitch stream. Snell said the risk of contracting COVID-19 is “just not worth it” while noting that the players had already agreed to a previous pay reduction.

May 14: Players likely to agree to universal DH

Although it’s relatively small beans, the players are likely to agree to a universal DH for the 2020 season. The thinking is, ostensibly, that pitchers would stay healthier if they were relieved of their hitting and running obligations. The season is expected to be played with expanded rosters, and the DH would allow teams to find at-bats for players who might otherwise go without.

May 12: No talks of money on Day 1

The league and union officially started talks May 12. Even so, the league reportedly did not present its revenue-sharing plan to the union on the first day. The union has pushed back on an altered agreement, stating its belief that a March deal between the two sides  — one that gave players prorated salaries dependent on the number of games played in 2020 — settled the pay issue.

May 11: Owners reach agreement

Prior to the start of their negotiations with the union, the owners approved a plan that would include an 82-game season, expanded rosters, and an expanded postseason that would include 14 teams. The plan also calls for the aforementioned 50-50 revenue split between the owners and players.


CBS Sports Staff

2020-05-26 10:48:11

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