The MLB and players union appear to have reached the point where both sides must decide whether they want to schedule a 2020 season.
After news this week of players and/or staff from seven teams testing positive for the coronavirus, MLB is willing to modify its proposal for a 60-game season to reach an agreement with the union, according to multiple reports.
With the possibility of the 2020 season being canceled (even with an agreement) due to the virus, the players are worried about conceding too much in negotiations ahead of 2021, the final year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to union executive director Tony Clark on Sunday offering to cancel the plan to expand postseason play and add a universal DH in 2021 — if a ‘full’ 2020 season isn’t played.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sent a letter to MLBPA executive director Tony Clark today offering to cancel expanded playoffs and universal DH for 2021 if a full season isn’t played in 2020, sources tell ESPN. Players are concerned about giving up leverage of playoffs for naught.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 21, 2020
MLB players are delaying the vote a bit today as MLB is suggesting it’s willing to make a couple changes in light of recent Covid cases. Sides are in contact and situation is fluid. Players are concerned that if this year is canceled owners end up reaping the benefits in ‘21.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 21, 2020
The MLBPA canceled its Sunday plan to vote on the league’s proposal, and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the modified version could be submitted on Monday.
The players union recently countered the 60-game plan for full prorated pay with 70 games, which the league rejected. That leaves the union with the option to accept the 60-game offer, modified or not, or allow Manfred to mandate a schedule.
However, with some of MLB's recent positive tests coming in Florida — which has seen a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases — the earliest players could report for a second spring training (3-4 weeks long) is June 29, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported. Therefore, the earliest a season could begin is late July, leaving little time to squeeze in even 60 games.
In letter to Tony Clark today, Rob Manfred said, “I really believe we are fighting over an impossibility on games.” Says given need to relocated teams from Florida, earliest players could report is June 29, leaving 66 days to play 60 games.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 21, 2020
Playing into November isn't an option for the owners, and Dr. Anthony Fauci recently recommended MLB consider not playing into October due to the virus. When adding in the recent positive tests, this could be the last chance for the two sides to have the choice to play in 2020.