The MLBPA rejected the league’s latest offer on Monday night, and it sounds like negotiations are over. What happens from here?
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster following the negotiations between MLB owners and the MLBPA over the last few weeks and months.
A day or two ago I thought that there was a very good chance the two sides could come to an agreement, but it doesn’t like that will be the case after all. On Monday evening the MLBPA voted down the latest proposal from the league, and after reading the statements from both sides on the matter, it sounds like the negotiations are over.
That does not mean that baseball is done for 2020 though, and that’s because of an agreement they were able to make back in March. Commissioner Rob Mandred was given the power to impose a season back then, and it sounds like that’s exactly what’s going to happen. At this point, I’m not prepared to say anything definitively until after it’s been announced, but the presumption is that a 60-game schedule will still be used, but the proposed new rules like a universal DH, expanded playoffs, and more, will not be implemented.
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From the MLBPA’s statement on Monday, the whole issue is down to two questions, at least from their perspective. First, they want to know if they can plan to start training camp on July 1st, as has been frequently discussed. Secondly, there needs to be a formal agreement when it comes to safety protocols.
That second part could still be a significant hurdle, even if it looks like baseball is set to return. I say that because of the recent spike in Coronavirus numbers, especially in states like Florida and Arizona that would presumably host some teams for their second go-around at spring training (there are also a few teams based there), and in other Covid-19 hotspot states like California and Texas. As for the Blue Jays, there’s still the issue of the closed border between Canada and the United States, but that’s been a foreseeable problem for a while now.
As we’ve seen in recent days, and even with plenty of safety measures in place, there have already been several reports of players and staff contracting or displaying symptoms of the virus in recent days, including within the Blue Jays organization. Hopefully those are fairly isolated incidents, but we’ll know a lot more in a few weeks, especially if camps begin to open up on July 1st. Also, an agreement is not yet in place, and until that happens, I don’t think we should be celebrating the return of baseball.
This whole process has not been good for the relationship between the league and the MLBPA, and it’s discouraging to see. That’s especially the case because the current CBA is set to expire after the 2021 season, and the two parties were already at odds over other issues like service time, revenue sharing, and more. There’s a lot of time before the current CBA runs out, but there’s also a lot of work to be done to repair the relationship and to bring the sides closer together. This latest exercise in negotiations wasn’t all that encouraging.
On that note, because they weren’t able to reach an agreement, it’s possible that the MLBPA will file a grievance against the league because of these recent negotiations. That would be based on the idea that the league didn’t act in “good faith” as far as trying to salvage as much of the season as possible, and there’s a good argument that the player’s will have a strong case. It’s also another reason that the situation is still worth monitoring, as the potential for a grievance was understandably a significant issue for the owners in negotiations, and it could still cause a hang-up.
For now, it looks like Manfred will be imposing a 60-game season that would get underway in late July, and see training camps open sometime this week. In all likelihood, we’ll know whether that’s going to happen by later today, so I guess all we can do is wait and see what happens. The next 18 months in the world of baseball are going to be very interesting.