Major League Baseball’s owners proposed a deal to the MLBPA in which spring training and the regular season would be delayed by a month, with the season being shortened from 162 to 154 games and the playoffs being expanded, as Yahoo’s Tim Brown first reported on Sunday. And while the deal seems more reasonable than the proposals the owners put forth during negotiations for a shortened season last summer, the players aren’t inclined to accept, per a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich:
MLB on Friday proposed to the union a 154-game schedule with full pay, delayed by a month and extended by a week, sources say. Also, with expanded postseason. Union considering.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 31, 2021
The owners’ proposal stipulates full pay (based on a 162-game schedule) for the slightly shortened season, though there are several pandemic-related conditions under which commissioner Rob Manfred could opt to pause the season, thereby putting the players’ salaries at risk of being reduced. It would include a universal DH according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, though there’s no word yet on whether this version of the proposal will feature last year’s ultra-polarizing seven-inning doubleheaders or the extra-innings rule which places a runner on second base to begin every frame in the 10th and beyond.
According to Drellich and Rosenthal’s report, the players see little reason to accept the owners’ proposal when the circumstances no longer give the league the leverage to effectively hold the season hostage. With the NFL, NBA, NHL, and countless college teams having succesfully started and staged seasons since MLB returned last July, it’s quite clear that the key point of this proposal is not the preservation of public health, but the addition of expanded playoffs and the potential opportunity for teams to play fewer games in empty stadiums as more Americans are vaccinated in the coming months. With the players not receiving anything substantial in exchange for those concessions to the owners, it makes sense for them to stick to the status quo with a heated labor dispute set to take place this winter.