MLB owners have been on record for weeks saying that every game played in a mythical 2020 season would see them lose more money, as the lack of fans in stands generates no revenue. We’ve also seen just this week just how lucrative the TV deals are for MLB playoff games regardless of in-stands fans, and it’s clear MLB owners think they can make money off playoff games. That, in part, is why they’ve been pushing back on a long season, as the quicker they get to playoff games that can be played before other sporting events overlap, the sooner they stand to actually generate some money this year.
Players, meanwhile, make money by regular season games played, per the March agreement they reached with owners to pay out prorated portions of their contract salaries for every game played. So, they naturally wanted a longer regular season, as that’s money in their pockets.
Factor in that the global coronavirus pandemic continues to be a major, major issue in all of this - particularly the risk of a wave arising and putting a pause on play before the playoffs and their revenue can be gleaned - and there’s your impasse. But after commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this week that he was ‘not confident’ we’d see baseball in 2020, the two sides are apparently somewhat close to reaching an agreement after all. After Manfred met with MLBPA chief Tony Clark yesterday, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman is relaying that the two sides are close to a deal that would get play back on the field this year.
Breaking: MLB and players union are closing in on an agreement to play the 2020 season, via players. Deal expected to be for prorated pay and include expanded playoffs.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
Full prorated pay for the players would be a win for them, in theory, while expanded playoffs would provide owners with an expanded chance to generate that sweet, sweet money they crave. And, in theory, expanded playoffs would mean that more teams would end up with playoff-share bonuses at season’s end, something I’m sure they’d be plenty on-board with as well.
Perhaps the single most important development is this, however:
As part of the pending agreement to play the 2020 season between MLB and the players union, the union has agreed to waive any grievance.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) June 17, 2020
Obviously, for the players to reach that point in these negotiations must mean the owners have conceded elsewhere, and that’s why we’re finally seeing some consolidation in these talks.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal had more to add on the initial proposal from MLB, with the 60 game schedule at full prorated pay (per the March agreement) meaning the initial $1.5 billion total pay the owners were offering up is still the same as before.
Source: MLB proposal includes:— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 17, 2020
•60 games in 70 days
•Season starting July 19th/20th
•Full Prorated Salary
•Expanded Playoffs in 2020 and 2021
•Waiving of any potential grievance
It certainly appears they’re going to give a willing try, and if so, we’re going to actually, finally have some Major League Baseball to watch. There will be universal DHs, expanded rosters, and likely a heavy-lean on bullpen use. Someone may hit .400, or slug .800, or post an ERA that starts with 0. We could see four or five-way ties for playoff spots, and ‘divisions’ as we knew them will probably be kaput.
Still, just when you got the impression there was cohesion towards getting back on the field, it’s pretty evident the two sides still have tons to discuss - just ask the MLBPA.
Reports of an agreement are false.— MLBPA Communications (@MLBPA_News) June 17, 2020
At least what we do know is that the seeming abandonment of negotiations over the weekend hasn’t lasted, and the two sides are at least again talking. Whether or not they’re actually making progress...well, who knows. I’m sure I’ll be writing basically this same exact thing for the 11th time at some point later this week, however.