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.

Updated at 10:15pm ET

From ESPN’s Jeff Passan:

And this from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:

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.

47 Responses

  1. Sliotar

    Since Tucker has the ability to post Tweets from the future … “June 23” … I am taking his word for it.

    -Bell making 40 positional changes a game with expanded pool of players to use

    -a potentially lethal post-season trio of Gray/Castillo/Bauer

    -get off to a good start … 7-3 in first 10 games is going to make whichever teams that do it look like playoff locks and serious contenders.

    Why not the Reds?

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Agreed. But much will depend on who shows up and who is able to avoid contracting the virus.

      That said, I am excited for a chance to watch a Reds team with a chance to win!

      • RedsEuphoria

        Provided the right measures are in place, I think they will be able to minimize the number of outbreaks due to testing players on a very frequent basis. Thus, I hope and am optimistic there won’t be too many large-sized outbreaks as MLB resumes.

  2. CI3J

    Well, the ball is in the players’ court, but the owners have behaved in a very scummy way throughout this entire process.

    I still wonder how many players are willing to risk their health to play this season, especially with virus cases spiking again in Arizona, Florida, and elsewhere. Things are getting worse, and are going to continue to get worse for the foreseeable future. I guess it comes down to how much money would it take for you to risk your health (and possibly your life?).

    We’ll see what happens now. I do think those already proclaiming “BASEBALL IS BACK!” have jumped the gun a little.

    • VaRedsFan

      There could be a billion Covid cases in a state, but that has nothing to do with playing a game in a virus free stadium, where nobody that has the virus will be admitted.

      • greenmtred

        True, I guess, but that couldn’t be assured, since test results aren’t immediately available. I guess if all fans got a negative test result and then quarantined for 14 days before the game they planned to attend…

  3. CFD3000

    Here’s something I’m pretty confident about. Yes, playing baseball is riskier than staying home. But just like many of us who couldn’t go out to a restaurant, or couldn’t hit the gym, or couldn’t play golf really wanted to get out of the house and do those things, I’m pretty confident that young men who get paid to play baseball for a living really want to play baseball. Probably even more than the fans want to see MLB games.

    The negotiations were ugly and selfish and petty and neither the owners nor the players come out looking great. And they’re going to have to figure out how to do better – meaning actually work in their mutual interests instead of being penny wise and pound foolish – in very little time as the current CBA expires. And Manfred and Clarke probably need to move on to facilitate those negotiations. But in the meantime, some actual baseball would be great, and I’m fairly confident most players agree. Fingers crossed.

  4. Mark Moore

    60 games, DH for 2 years (probably forever), expanded playoffs, and anybody getting out to a fast start (like the 1981 A’s did) gets a HUGE advantage.

    I guess this is baseball. Now to see how much MLB.tv wants to charge for this. I’m thinking about $45 is all I’d be willing to pony up.

    Can’t wait to see the details. Odd it took so long for the owners to do what they agreed to back when they all thought this was a flash-in-the-pan.

  5. Klugo

    Okay. There it is. We will see if they meant it when they said When & Where or if it was just BS. Grievance rights are in tact . Play Ball!
    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  6. Tom Mitsoff

    For what it’s worth — 60 games divided by four (the number of divisional opponents each team has) is an even 15. Schedule could be all in-division games.

    • Mark Moore

      Interesting … I’m wondering how playoffs would be seeded.

      • MBS

        So if that is the case, then how will the playoffs work?

        You’d have an odd number of playoffs, MLB Central, MLB West, and MLB East.

        Maybe they won’t combine divisions from AL and NL, but only schedule the games between the corresponding divisions. There by giving you the AL vs NL playoff race.

      • TR

        If certain players do opt out then was there any agreement earlier on if they are paid or get service time? I thought this was part of a potential new deal. If say Joey Votto opts out then could Reds void his contract for not reporting?

    • Gonzo Reds

      I’m thinking 10 games against each team in division and 4 games against each team in the AL division.

  7. Old-school

    But 60 credible games won’t happen.
    Covid will either shut it down or shut down the clubhouse with repeated and constant interruptions.

    The bullpen hangs out in the bullpen. … Even one high risk exposure risks half a month….in a 2 month season.

    I don’t see credibility here.

    • CI3J

      I feel the same. I’m extremely skeptical that this will succeed or is even a good idea.

      It should at least be fascinating to watch, but I really hope they are diligent about the virus. Players are going to get sick, it’s almost a foregone conclusion. But if the players want to risk it, it’s up to them.

    • jim walker

      Seems to me there are all sorts of loose ends that aren’t covered by the “March Agreement”, at least not the current public parts of it. Just for beginners, are expanded rosters covered in the health and safety rules?

      There could be all sorts of pot holes to get worked out here

  8. vegastypo

    Is it even assured that there will be a DH in the National League? That was in the agreement that got voted down. I’m sure the players will love it, of course, but are the owners going to still offer it? I seem to focus on that because the Reds have four or five DHs on their roster, it seems.

    • jim walker

      DH is another of the points I was wondering about.

      Right now it is about as clear as mud whether they will be playing in 3 “super” 10 team divisions or the 6 traditional divisions with East versus East etc for the interleague games which make the balance of the schedule not played within the traditional divisions.

      And if they play in 3 super divisions will there be 5 or 10 playoff qualifiers?

    • Glenn

      Vegastypo the announcement said the DH was offered but was voted down and the 60 Game forced schedule will not include the DH.

      • jim walker

        Heyman is reporting (based on leaks, not officially) that there will be universal Dh this year but not in ’21 unless that is subsequently agreed to.

  9. JayTheRed

    I won’t count my chickens until the day players report. I am not thrilled by only a 60 game season. I am worried that players are going to get covid 19 especially in Texas, Arizona, Florida, and California where cases are rising pretty sharply.

    No matter what team wins there will be an * next to their winnings for the playoffs. Oh one last note I am ok with trying the DH in the NL.

  10. RedNat

    I am actually happy that the cases are going up and deaths are going down. This implies that the virus is becoming less virulent ( which many scientists predicted would happen).the lethality rate is now down to 5 percent already in this country. This is down from 10 percent in April when it was devastating New York.
    From what i understand now the vast majority of new cases are people that are getting tested for work and test positive but are asymptomatic. The fatality curve has definitely ” flattened”.

    I hope the players have the courage to get out there. In my mind they would be True heroes if they decide to play.

    • greenmtred

      A factor in the decreasing morbidity may be that infections among younger people are rising at the fastest rate of any age group, and another factor may be related to timing, since the current hot spots became so relatively recently, and NYC–the first and worst hot spot–is seemingly emerging (at least temporarily) from its nightmare.

    • jim walker

      I have (at least) 3 problems with this scenario.

      >We are also exposing greater numbers of more vulnerable people.

      >>The unknown and possibly lasting physical damage to the apparently “asymptomatic” infected individuals. We do know numbers of them are suffering at least short term lung abnormalities. There have also been indications of other body systems being impacted, specifically urological and neurological symptoms.

      >>>The current and possible long social and financial cost of treating individuals from groups one and two above.

      Around the world, other nations have flattened the entire virus curve, not just the mortality curve. There is no reason we can’t do the same in the US and still prosper. Research indicates if everyone wore face covering and practiced social distancing in public that is exactly what would happen. The people who do these 2 simple things are the real unsung heroes.

      • RedNat

        I would tend to agree if it was a bad influenza season but it looks like this virus is here to stay Jim. I don’t think we are going to be able to hide from it. I mean if it surviving and flourishing in 100 degree heat in Arizona,we are a talking about a tough durable virus that will likely be endemic.

        separating young and healthy from old unhealthy guys like myself is likely the only chance us old guys have. but, imo, the young healthy ball players should be able to play. they just may not be able to see there grandparents anymore, which does stink

      • greenmtred

        What we aren’t talking about is the impact on medical personnel–a number of whom have died, despite being young–if we simply decide that people in high-risk categories should stay home and let the rest go about their business. That course of action is guaranteed to maintain higher rates of infection in much of the population. The economy needs to reopen, but it needs to reopen based on science, not impatience.

    • Satchmo

      There is no way the lethality rate was every anywhere near 5%, much less 10%. Current estimates put it at around .02-.01%, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in elderly + comorbidity population. Remember, % of deaths of the hospitalized is not the same thing as % of deaths with the virus.

      • jim walker

        Current Johns Hopkins US Dashboard to nearest 1K

        2.34M cases, 123K dead. That’s a tad over 5%.

      • Amarillo

        .0375% is the total percentage of the entire United States that has died to COVID. The fatality rate of confirmed cases is 5.14%

  11. Mike Adams

    If they DO get it all worked out and start on time, that is still 31 days from today.

    Waaaah, that is forEVer! That is SO long to wait wah wah wah.

    OK, got that out of my system, I will now act like a responsible 63 year old adult.

    • CFD3000

      Even if we don’t eventually get baseball in 2020, I’m laughing at this on a Tuesday morning. Thanks Mike.

  12. Jefferson J Reed

    A lot of potholes since March. More to come.

  13. Tom Reeves

    “They [The Owners] delayed things long enough to try and save as much money as they could.”

    Can you supply a fact that confirms this statement or is this statement simply conjecture? It’s presented as a fact as its currently written. Do you know how much money the owners are saving?

    Are there any other potential explanations for the delay of the season?

    • Doug Gray

      I mean I don’t have statements from owners saying they delayed it. But it’s clear to anyone and everyone who was paying attention that it’s what they did. And if we are to believe the owners, each game they wound up cutting off of the schedule saves each team, roughly $340,000. I don’t believe that number for a second, but that’s what they are presenting as truth (and there’s a whole lot of evidence that it’s not true).

      The owners didn’t offer prorated salary in their attempt at a renegotiation until 5 days ago. They agreed to that in March. The explanation is pretty simple: The season has been delayed because the owners didn’t want to pay the players what they already agreed to pay them. Once the owners agreed to pay them what they already had agreed to pay them in March things got done real quick.

      • IndyRedsFan

        Doug,

        You (and many other writers) have repeatedly said in your posts that the owners “agreed to pay a full prorated salary back in March”.

        I don’t believe they did.

        Everyone knows that there is the clause that states …. “we agree to negotiate in good faith the economic feasibility….if there are no fans in attendance.”

        I’ve have been waiting for someone to explain this to me. If that doesn’t mean that there would be a negotiation on salaries if no fans in attendance…what DOES it mean???

        Can you please give me your thoughts on this?

        Until someone can explain that, I see the Union as being the folks who have reneged on the agreement.

      • Doug Gray

        It means that the owners couldn’t actually show that they had no economic feasibility. The players asked for information on the local and national television rights deals that would show the actual feasibility or not. The owners did not provide the players association with all of that information. At that point the players said “then we’re sticking to the March deal”.

      • Tom Reeves

        There are certain rules in labor negotiations that dictate when a company must open the books. If a company argued that a union proposal is economically in feasible, they’re required by labor laws to allow the union to examine the books.

        With a privately owned organization – or this case, 30 privately owned organizations plus a collective trust organization, they will not want to open the books unless it was absolutely the last resort.

        Frankly, I think it would be far more expensive to start the season and have to shut it down rather than not play it at all. There’s no point before now that I could conceive of where games could be play meeting compliance in all the stated where they’re playing. And, now that teams are having positive cases within their operations, the chances of successfully beginning a season is dropping.

        Further, there has always been a very narrow window of time that a season could be completed within. I think the best-case scenario was a 9 week season and 2 rounds of playoffs. But, as cases continue to go up, there’s a legitimate health and safety reason to abandon the season. And that argument will win in arbitration. All the owners have to say: “We tried to have a season. We know it would be tough and here’s the list of constraints. One of the biggest constrains is that we didn’t know if there would be further shutdowns at the state and local level. We don’t have a uniform response in every city and state where we play and a slight change in lockdown rules could impact the entire season. At the point we believed it was safe to begin the season, we saw a rise in cases. We simply weren’t able to safety have a season.”

        Now, what do I suspect is really happening – and I’ll admit this conjecture – the union wants the MLB to open the financial books in anticipation of the 2021-2022 CBA negotiation. The owners absolutely do not want to do this under any circumstance. Both parties are willing to play chicken with the 2020 season to get an upper hand in the 2021-2022 negotiation. The owners have the unpredictable pandemic card and the players have the arbitration card. I think the unpredictable pandemic card is a much bigger lever than the what the players have. The players also have another card that only works if MLB attempts to play a season. Injuries allow players to get paid without risk of exposure to the virus. And, there’s some argument that if an player is on the IL, they get paid even for the games they aren’t played – at least that would be subject to arbitration. Also, at least some players will weigh if they want to put their long term health at risk for a shorted year? There’s a reasonable risk that a shortened year would mostly be made up of AAAA level players. Again, this is all speculation on my part. But, I don’t believe this is a simple as the owners just want to save money. This is a complex negotiation between organizations with a lot of money on the line in the mist of an unpredictable and dangerous pandemic.

    • Satchmo

      When you read an article at redlegnation, you always have to factor in the painfully obvious bias Mr. Gray has against the owners. He simply can’t help himself. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon the site; there’s lots of good content on here. It just means that you’re going to have to keep reading from other sources to get the whole truth.

  14. ClevelandRedsFan

    Can we actually start the real debates that matter now. We all played lawyer for 6 weeks, now let’s play manager. At least that’s more fun.

    I just read DH is real for NL in 2020 under the safety protocols.

    Castellanos should DH about 50% of the time, Winker 25% and everyone else the remaining 25%. Here’s why:
    Reds still need to develop Winker as an average LF.
    Reds can’t label Castellanos full time DH or that might turn him off and not want to pick up his 2021 player option.
    Castellanos and Winker seem like equally bad outfielders although Castellanos’ position has a bit more value.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      The free-agent market after this season is going to be very lean financially. Unless Castellanos absolutely hates it with Cincinnati, I don’t see him opting out of $48 million guaranteed over the next three seasons (following the current one).

      There’s a good chance, in my opinion, that he will stay four years. My lineup to open the season would have Winker and Ervin platooning in left, Senzel in center and Akiyama in right, with Castellanos as DH. Unfortunately, there’s not going to be time to give Akiyama an opportunity to adjust to MLB. If he gets off slowly, he may have to sit in favor of someone with experience such as Aquino.

      I agree, though, that in Castellanos and Winker you have two players whose best position is probably DH. Even with a DH, there is the possibility that if the virus sweeps through the team, there will be days when literally David Bell will be looking for people who have played the outfield before to put in the lineup, and Castellanos may be in the outfield under those circumstances, even with the DH.

      If there is no DH, then Castellanos will play in the outfield every day. He’s a big bat that they needed, and he’s not going to sit. He’d probably be in right field, with some combination of Akiyama, Senzel, Ervin and Winker in left and center. Also, keep your eyes open for Michael Lorenzen to be used as a seventh- and eighth-inning setup reliever, and moved to the outfield in the eighth or ninth in games in which the Reds are ahead.

      • Michael Smith

        @tom

        I will be disappointed if Akiyama is not in the MVP race. I mean he is hitting around 370 in the strato game you are gm for.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Michael, I will be disappointed too! I hope he hits as well in real life as he is in sim! But all kidding aside, we have no idea how well he will adapt to MLB baseball. I liked what I saw on TV in some spring training games, but it was too small of a sample size to make any valid judgments.

        I would like to see him as the leadoff hitter for at least a couple of weeks to start the season. But unfortunately, David Bell does not report to me. 🙂

  15. VaRedsFan

    Asking for a friend….Why play against AL teams? Once you get on a plane, does the virus know if you are traveling to Kansas City or San Diego? Are you preventing the spread of the virus by traveling less of a distance?

    • ClevelandRedsFan

      It’s partly to stop the spread of COVID, but mostly to stop the spread of dollars spent on travel.