Source: MLB players’ board rejects 60-game season by 33-5

Sports

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media at the owners meeting in Arlington, Texas. The chance that there will be no Major League Baseball season increased substantially Monday, June 15, 2020, when the commissioner’s office told the players’ association it will not proceed with a schedule amid the coronavirus pandemic unless the union waives its right to claim management violated a March agreement between the feuding sides. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The executive board of the Major League Baseball Players Association rejected a proposed 60-game schedule by a 33-5 vote, daring Commissioner Rob Manfred to give a unilateral order for the regular season’s start and provoke what figures to be lengthy and costly litigation over the impact of the coronavirus.

The union’s vote was confirmed by a person familiar with the meeting who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the balloting was not made public.

The union said in a statement that the “board reaffirmed the players’ eagerness to return to work as soon and as safely as possible.”

“To that end we anticipate finalizing a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols with Major League Baseball in the coming days, and we await word from the league on the resumption of spring training camps and a proposed 2020 schedule,” the union said.

Manfred was expected to take the next step later Monday as baseball descends into the type of labor strife that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95.

With the collapse of a negotiated deal, playoffs are set to remain at 10 teams rather than expand to 16, and the proposed expansion of the designated hitter to games involving NL teams would be off. Also falling through for now is a planned experiment that would have had a runner start each extra inning on second base.

Spring training was suspended on March 12, two weeks ahead of scheduled openers, and the sides have reverted to the familiar financial infighting that fractured the sport in the past. An initial deal March 26 called for players to receive prorated salaries, but that agreement did not require MLB to play in empty ballparks.

Players refused to alter from their insistence on prorated salaries, and MLB finally agreed last week during a meeting between Manfred and union head Tony Clark. But the sides remained about $275 million apart after weeks of talks. MLB offered 60 games and $1.48 billion from salaries that originally totaled $4 billion, plus a $25 million postseason players’ pool. The union wanted 70 games and $1.73 billion plus a $50 million pool.

Players are expected to file a grievance, claiming MLB violated a provision in the March agreement requiring both sides to “work in good faith to as soon as is practicable commence play, and complete the fullest 2020 championship season and postseason that is economically feasible” consistent with several provisions. MLB is expected to file a grievance accusing the union of negotiating in bad faith.

All the while, the coronavirus upended plans of many teams to resume training at their Florida facilities due to a rise in virus cases in the state. Twenty-nine teams intend to work out in their regular-season ballparks, with Toronto awaiting additional talks with the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial governments.

More bickering and turmoil lies ahead. Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1, 2021, and the virus damaged the already deteriorated relationship and became just another of the financial issues that point toward a spring training lockout ahead of the 2022 season.

This dispute has played out following five straight years of relatively flat salaries, a failed grievance alleging the Chicago Cubs manipulated the service time of Kris Bryant to delay the free agency of the star third baseman and accusations teams failed to use revenue sharing money properly, part of the union’s claim teams are “tanking.”

MLB says clubs have the right to determine when prospects are ready for the majors and also are free to lower payrolls for rebuilding.

Further, the failed negotiations sparked criticism of Clark and chief negotiator Bruce Meyer by agents, though there is no evidence yet that the displeasure has extended to players.

Until now, the latest openers have been was May 1 during five seasons in the 1800s, according to Elias Sports, but since 1900 it had been April 25 following the end of the 1994-95 strike. Players interrupted the 1981 season with a strike that started June 12, and the second half of a split season started on Aug. 10.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STATEMENT

Major League Baseball issued the following statement 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.”

FOX 2 Newsletters

Sign up for a newsletter from FOX 2 to get updates about news and weather. We offer daily headlines, breaking news, severe weather, and forecast emails.

Popular

Latest News

More News