MLB rejected the Players Association’s proposal for a 114-game season and is building internal consensus around implementing a season of roughly 50 games for full prorated play for players, unless the players are willing to play around 82 games at less than that, sources told The Post.
The union on Sunday made a counterproposal to MLB that would call for a 114-game season and no cutbacks in prorated pay.
MLB has objected to both of those concepts. They offered an 82-game regular season that concludes in September with the playoffs in the traditional October, largely out of concerns that the coronavirus could rebound with a strong wave in cooler weather and lead to the cancellation of the postseason, which is the sport’s big national TV moneymaker.
And MLB also has been strident that it would not play that many games at full prorated salaries and incur what it said would be greater losses by playing.
During what was at times a contentious negotiation Sunday between top officials from both sides, MLB floated that if full prorated salaries were a must than the March 26 agreement between the two entities gives Commissioner Rob Manfred the right to implement a season of any length. The concept is between a 40-60-game regular season, but the expectation is they would center it more at 48-54 games.
MLB would essentially be giving the union a choice of three months worth of games but not at full prorated pay, or two months at a prorated total.
The union has tried to have more games because that generally equates to more pay. And the union has been as publicly ardent that players should get their full prorated salaries in a longer season as MLB has been that the players should not.
MLB believes that as long as it meets health/safety and economic feasibility requirements — which it thinks it has — the commissioner could implement a season of any length. Even if the union agreed, though, the season could not go on without the players’ blessing on other issues, namely health and safety. Then there would be a question if the owners could rescind components of the March 26 agreement if the players refuse the shorter season, namely the agreed to that they would get full service time this year regardless of how many or how few games (including zero) the sides play.
But even if the players agreed to a shorter season and the full prorated pay, is that going to be self-defeating to the industry. There already are asterisk-level credibility questions that would arrive with an 82-game campaign. What if it was 48 games? Would anyone think the ultimate World Series winner is truly a champ or that the stats are legitimate or that it is worth their time to care? Also, would more players stay away believing if there are questions of legitimacy why even show up and take on the risks created by the coronavirus?