FEB. 1: The union “doesn’t like expanded playoffs” in the league’s proposal, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. It’s no sure thing the union will even put forth a counterproposal, per Heyman.
JAN. 31, 8:56PM: According to multiple reports, one of the MLBPA’s other concerns about the league’s offer is that the players believe commissioner Rob Manfred would have too much extra power to modify the schedule (or cancel games outright). The players are under no obligation to negotiate any sort of altered procedures for the start or length of the 2021 season, and thus without a new deal in place to modify the terms of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the players would proceed as usual towards the scheduled starts of Spring Training and the April 1st Opening Day.
1:32PM: MLB and the Players’ Union continue to haggle over conditions and rules for the upcoming season. On Friday, MLB made another attempt to find an acceptable solution, submitting a proposal to the MLBPA for a 154-game season without prorating player pay, per Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). The proposal also includes delaying the season by a month and expanding playoffs. Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds that the universal designated hitter is also included in this offer. The MLBPA leadership are mulling the offer this weekend.
As it sounds, this deal has everything both sides want: full season pay for the players, expanded playoffs for the owners, and a delayed start for the health and safety of everyone involved. These are the basic conditions that we’ve been heading for all along, or so it has seemed. After all, while MLB has never been in favor of pushing the playoffs deep into November, this year there is a particular benefit to pushing the season in that direction. It would almost certainly mean a greater number of participants – and fans – having been vaccinated against COVID-19. November baseball may be colder, but it’s almost certain to be safer as well.
And yet, for the players, there are still some long-term implications that could prevent them from simply signing on the dotted line. As noted by the Athletic’s Eno Sarris (via Twitter), caving on expanded postseason gives the players very little leverage to carry with them into the CBA negotiations at the end of the 2021 season. Besides, the MLBPA represents a large body of players, most of whom have made preparations for a season to start on time, as notes MLB Player Agent Rafa Nieves (via Twitter). All told, the expectations are the MLBPA will reject this newest proposal, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.