Well, that didn’t take very long, did it? Less than three hours after the Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Board voted down a 60-game proposal from Major League Baseball/owners, it seems like we’re nearly ready to have a season set. Despite Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting less than two hours ago that MLB/Rob Manfred wouldn’t be setting a season under the terms of the March agreement tonight or tomorrow, Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball basically DID announce the setting of a schedule. It does, however, still require the players to agree to it.
Here’s the release from Major League Baseball just before 8:30pm ET tonight:
Today, the Major League Baseball Players Association informed us that they have rejected the agreement framework developed by Commissioner Manfred and Tony Clark. Needless to say, we are disappointed by this development.
“The framework provided an opportunity for MLB and its players to work together to confront the difficulties and challenges presented by the pandemic. It gave our fans the chance to see an exciting new Postseason format. And, it offered players significant benefits including:
1) The universal DH for two years
2) A guaranteed $25 million in playoff pools in 2020
3) $33 million in forgiven salary advances that would increase the take home pay of 61% of Major League players
4) Overall earnings for players of 104 percent of prorated salary
5) Over the last two days, MLB agreed to remove expanded Postseason in 2021 in order to address player concerns
“In view of this rejection, the MLB Clubs have unanimously voted to proceed with the 2020 season under the terms of the March 26th Agreement. The provisions listed above will not be operative.
“In order to produce a schedule with a specific number of games, we are asking that the Players Association provide to us by 5:00 p.m. (ET) tomorrow with two pieces of information. The first is whether players will be able to report to camp within seven days (by July 1st). The second is whether the Players Association will agree on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary to give us the best opportunity to conduct and complete our regular season and Postseason.
This isn’t quite a done deal yet. It would seem that the July 1st reporting date is much less of an issue than the “agreement on the Operating Manual which contains the health and safety protocols necessary” side of things. Perhaps that isn’t much of a hurdle to get over, but of the two things that MLB is asking of the MLBPA, that one does seem to be a little bit bigger of an issue from the outside looking in, especially given that the statement from the players earlier today released a statement that included, “we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days,” – and now 2 hours and 15 minutes later Major League Baseball told them “you’ve got 20.5 hours”.
Now, to put this into proper context: 88 days ago Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association came to an agreement that included prorated pay for the number of games that would be played. It was not until five days ago that the owners actually offered prorated pay to the players in the “new” negotiations. And that plan included the players expanding playoffs and giving up their legal rights to file a grievance.
After 88 days, Major League Baseball finally decided that they would stick to the original agreement with the players. They delayed things long enough to try and save as much money as they could. Will the players accept a weeks notice to report and agree on the safety protocols? We’ll find out. But it seems that the Reds representative, Tucker Barnhart, is ready to get going.
Let’s win the whole F*CKING thing. https://t.co/ftN5qZl1Bk
— Tucker Barnhart (@Tucker_Barnhart) June 23, 2020
Updated at 10:15pm ET
From ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
As I’ve learned over the last three months, never, ever, ever, ever think MLB and the MLBPA are close to anything until the ink is dry on an agreement. Health-and-safety issues could cause a snag, and the whole thing could cascade. But the optimism and motivation are both there.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 23, 2020
And this from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
Hearing plan stays in place for teams to face teams in usual divisional plus corresponding geographic division in other league to limit travel.
So #Rays would face AL East #BlueJays, #Orioles, #RedSox, #Yankees, plus NL East #Braves, #Marlins, #Mets, #Phillies, #Nationals
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) June 23, 2020
That would mean that the NL Central and AL Central would join up as “MLB Central” or whatever. Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Twins, Indians, White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. Oh my.