While the NBA recently approved a plan to restart its season, Major League Baseball hasn’t had similar success in formulating a plan that is agreeable to the Players Union and team ownership.
Despite the impasse, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently said there is a “100 percent chance” there will be a baseball season this summer. We just don’t know what that looks like quite yet.
The Current Proposals
The major sticking point throughout negotiations has been salaries. The league initially proposed a significant cut to salaries during discussions in late May, which caused negotiations to slow and accusations of bad faith by both sides. In June, MLB responded with a proposal for a 76-game season in which players would receive 75 percent of their prorated salaries, according to ESPN. The MLBPA again rejected that deal, and announced that players intend to counter with a proposal for an 89-game season, expanded playoffs (that would include 16 teams), and – perhaps most importantly – players receiving 100 percent of their prorated salaries for participating.
What Will the Season Look Like?
So far, rumored proposals have called for as many as 114 games and as few as 50, with a July 4 start to the season reportedly the goal. The MLBPA is advocating a longer season – more games mean players retain more of their salaries. Ownership has pushed for a shorter season to reduce costs and offset lost gate revenue from being unable to play in front of fans.
The location of where games will actually happen is also still being discussed. Texas, Arizona, and Florida are all states that have been discussed to host season games.
Also, expect some tweaks to the rules for the 2020 season. Rosters would be expanded to 30 players, with 20-man taxi squads available should illness or injury become a factor for any team. Schedules will be regional, so there won’t be significant travel or long road trips during the regular season. Both the National League and the American League are likely to use a designated hitter this season, meaning NL rosters would look a little different than normal to have extra position players available to fill the DH role. The playoffs are also likely to include more teams – there have been proposals for a 14-team playoff and a 16-team playoff.
Although there seems to be consensus on smaller issues, the inability of the league and the MLBPA to reach common ground on what portion of salaries players should be paid is causing time that could be devoted to conditioning and practicing in preparation for a July restart to erode away. Still, Manfred’s “100 percent” guarantee should have baseball fans optimistic they’ll see games soon.