MLB to Impose Shortened 2020 Season After Negotiations With Players Fall Apart

Season expected to begin in late July, assuming COVID-19 doesn’t get the final say

Dodger Stadium
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In statements Monday night, the Major League Baseball organization and the players’ union announced that negotiations over potential new agreements have ended, and that the league will move forward with a shortened 2020 schedule based on a previous agreement reached in March.

Per that agreement, reached March 26 after the COVID-19 pandemic caused several sectors of the economy, including major sports leagues to shut down, the shortened season will last 60 games. The exact schedule has not been set, but USA Today reports that it is likely to begin in late July. To that end, the league is asking the players union, by no later than 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, to indicate if players can report to camp by July 1, and if they will agree on a league-provided “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.”

The announcement comes after months of tense negotiations between the league and players over possible changes to the March 26 agreement. Ultimately the factions were unable to reach agreement on new terms under which players would return to work, however, and in a statement issued just after 3:00 p.m. PT, the players union conceded the season would instead proceed as previously set out.

Two hours later, the league used its own statement in part to get what amounts to the last word in the matter, saying that it was “disappointed” that players “rejected” what it says is a plan providing “significant benefits” to them. The league statement then proceeded to lay out several bullet points describing those benefits, adding that the season would move forward but “the provisions listed above will not be operative.”

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee any shortened season will happen. As of Sunday, 40 players and MLB staffers have contracted COVID-19. A spike in cases could result in the season being canceled regardless of any agreement.

See the full statements by MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association below.

“Major League Baseball issued the following statement Monday night:

“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.”