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MLB Owners Pitch 76-Game Season, Expanded Playoffs

The Major League Baseball season continues to remain in limbo. Opening Day was originally scheduled for March 26 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, two and a half months after when first pitch of the regular season was expected to be thrown, we’re still no closer to seeing actual game action on the diamond. We’ve seen a series of proposals from one side be inevitably rejected by the other side. On the other side of the coin, we’ve seen the opposite side send offers only to be rejected out of hand. There have been differences of opinions over the number of games, the amount that players will get paid and pretty much every other possible thing under the sun.

On Monday, the latest proposal from the owners was made public, with a request for a response from the players by Wednesday. In that concept, the owners are pitching a 76-game season with players receiving 75 percent of their pro-rated salaries for those contests. In case you don’t want to do the heavy lifting with a calculator, that would lead to the players getting 35.2 percent of their actual salaries that would be paid out over the course of an actual 162-game regular season schedule.

As it stands, this one likely won’t be warmly received by the MLBPA, who is intent on getting a full share of their salaries and as large a chunk of that as they can get. Under this concept, the 75 percent proration is contingent on the postseason taking place. If the postseason failed to take place due to a second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic or something else that ultimately derailed the season, players would receive only 50 percent of their prorated salary. That’s likely a non-starter when you get right down to it and makes one wonder if this is merely going to be another smokescreen as opposed to an actual step toward some sort of compromise.

A couple of other changes to this offer compared to what we’ve seen from either side so far in these negotiations. Under this new proposal, the owners have gone to a potential 16-team playoff field. That would be a steep upgrade from the normal 10-team field we’ve had in recent years and even the 14-team proposal that the players have pitched for both 2020 and 2021. In addition, there would be no draft pick compensation for teams that lose players via free agency after a qualifying offer is rejected. According to Joel Sherman, the plan would be to start the season July 10 after three weeks or so of spring training under their current proposal.

It’s going to be interesting to see what unfolds from this latest proposal. The players are going to be a bit reticent, and that’s putting it lightly, when it comes to considering this deal. However, there has to be some give on their side in order to hammer out a potential deal in order to salvage some sort of the season. If the players don’t come out with a deal that can work for both sides, commissioner Rob Manfred will just institute a 48 to 54 game season that will fall back closer to the last proposal the owners made. That means that the players would be at the crossroads of playing a ridiculously shortened season, or sitting out the whole year and leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fans with no guarantee that hammering out a deal for the 2021 season would be any better from a financial standpoint.

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Chris Kubala

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