Whether you believe the owners are being greedy or the players are being unfair and need to compromise, negotiations between MLB owners and players have been a mess and progressing at a snail’s pace. Each day that goes by, pessimism grows on the hopes to even have a 2020 season.
The LA Times reports that both sides have agreed to one thing, the start date for the yet-to-be agreed to season. It’s not a July 4 Opening Day but they agreed to start on July 10. If this goes forward, this means MLB will likely start before the NBA and NHL but after many other sports not in the “big four” American sports leagues.
The point of contention between both sides is what it has always been throughout negotiations, the number of games being played and player pay. In their latest proposals, the owners offered 76 games with between 50 and 75 percent prorated pay while the MLBPA offered 89 games and an expanded playoffs with full prorated pay.
Major League Baseball does have a kind of “worst case scenario” option that could enforce a 48-game season at prorated pay but the LA Times notes that may not be ideal for a few reasons.
If the final move is that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred mandates the shorter season, that could be disastrous on three fronts: public perception of a league in which stars might sit out rather than play for one-third of their previously guaranteed salaries; the turmoil heading into negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement next year; and the risk that the owners lose a grievance and have to pay the players more anyway.
That second reason is a big one. There’s going to be another negotiation for a new CBA starting next year. And if you thought this negotiation was bad, it might be even worse when the two sides are trying to negotiate an agreement that’ll last multiple years. At the same time, it should be noted that whichever side compromises more now may have the upper hand in negotiations on the next CBA.
The one good thing to coming up with a date for Opening Day is there’s a point of no return that both sides now understand. There’s no more kicking the can down the road and everyone knows that things are in the 11th hour. On one hand, getting down to crunch time might get both sides to make big concessions and get something done. On the other, it might be the clincher to either have a very short season or no season at all. Whatever happens, it won’t be long before we’ll know the end result.