After the Major League Baseball Players Association offered up their plan to the owners on Sunday, the owners have privately balked at the idea. That’s not surprising given the offer and what the owners want – which is basically a guarantee for the playoffs to happen, where they make a very large chunk of money, and lower in-season salaries. While the proposal hasn’t been officially denied, it’s dead in the water.

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported on Monday evening that Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred could invoke a 50 game season. The agreement in March allows that to happen as long as the players get their prorated salary. It’s being reported that this is not what Major League Baseball wants to happen, but that it is an option. If MLB were to implement this plan, the season would reportedly begin in July and is considered a “last resort” in the situation that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement.

This could be, and almost certainly is being leaked as a negotiating tactic. The players want more games, the owners want fewer games because for each side it means more money for their side (the owners claim they would lose money with each game played, though that is a rather disputed point. The players of course would make more money with each game played as they are seeking prorated by game salary).

Back and forth we go. There’s a “deadline” date, but the idea that there’s actually a deadline is silly. Both sides at the virtual table know it, I know it, you know it, and your best friends cat knows it. And that’s doubly true if Rob Manfred can simply “force” a 50-game season to happen. You can play 50 games and still have a full on playoff in October if you began the season in early August without a single problem related to game schedule.  There’s plenty of time to work this out IF they want to – at least in the sense that they can continue to negotiate for a very long time before having to invoke the “commissioner says the season is starting” plan.

30 Responses

  1. greenmtred

    Do the players get their full salaries if the season isn’t played at all? I was under the impression that contracts are guaranteed.

    • Doug Gray

      No. The players union got $170,000,000 paid out in installments between March and April to spread out to more than 1200 players (40 man guys, and a few non-40-man guys) as an “advance” if the season were played. If no games are played at all, they get to keep that money, but get nothing else. That money was not spread out evenly to players – it was handed out based on seniority, basically. No player got more than $280,000. Many got much, much less. Players were allowed to opt out of getting their share, though, which would have allowed some more to go to the others in the union. There’s not been a report that I’ve seen that has said if anyone did or how many. But, the math works out to be 4% of the overall salary set to be paid to MLB players this year, just to put it into perspective. So, if no games are played this year, the players as a whole, got paid 4% of their contractually guaranteed salaries.

  2. Tom Reeves

    They could play a 54 game season. Each team plays the other nine teams in their division in a 3 game series at home and away. Frankly, they can play six games a week with one off day and this works for a nine week season.

    Then, take the winner of each division plus one wild card and have a playoff. It would make the division races really mean something. This adds two more weeks for a total of 12 weeks to get the the season and World Series played. That’s tidy.

  3. CFD3000

    A 50 game season would be a huge disappointment. Not even a third of a normal season? So many things wrong with that. Automatically you have an unbalanced schedule, plus the small sample size, plus the increased significance of any one game and loss, and then a post-season that’s always a bit of a crap shoot anyway, with teams qualifying that might or might not have survived the longer season. They might as well have a bowl-off or a round robin mini-golf tournament. 50 > 0, but is no games really even an option? I’d say figure out how to play at least half a season or baseball will be hurting for fans and dollars well past 2020.

  4. MK

    The worst team in the league could put up a 10-game winning streak and sew up a championship.

    Can’t see the need for a 30-man roster.

    Can’t see why the players would risk a career ending injury for less than 1/3 of their pay (if it is pro-rated.

    • Stock

      On a per game basis it is the same pay. My guess is the players don’t have a choice since it is part of a contract they signed. If you don’t play you don’t get another year of service time. The younger players benefit more with the shorter schedule.

      • Linkster

        Or, you can agree to play and phone it in.

  5. Alex Whitehead

    The proposals from both sides have been such non starters for the other, is this even about baseball this year, are these opening salvos to the 2021 CBA?

  6. Stock

    Reds play 10 games vs. the NL central teams (Cubs, Cards, Brewers, Pirates) and 2 games vs. AL Central Teams (Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Royals, Twins). Balanced in division schedule. 50 games (as players agreed to).

    I think a 54 game schedule is a no. Players did not agree to it. Owners have two options:

    1. 50 game schedule
    2. Negotiate something else

    I never knew about this from the original agreement. I was wondering why the owners gave up 170 million so easily. Now I know.

  7. RedNat

    in a way the rioting could be an interesting medical trial. if in 2 weeks there is a huge spike in cases then no fans in the stands and likely there is no baseball this year. if cases continue to go down however then I think there is a strong argument to let fans in the stadium and I think the season occurs.

    the reason I keep bringing this up is that the players (in all sports) were initially unwilling to play in empty stadiums and I still think that is a major factor. if fans can return I really think that will get the momentum going for a season

    • MK

      New Ohio cases are staying about the same though new hospitalizations are down. I don’t see it happening in Ohio. I agree demonstrations are going to cause numbers to go up. Opening bars in Korea created a spike and KBO was hoping to have fans in June, now it is July at earliest.

  8. Linkster

    50 games…why bother? It would be a joke of a season with no true champion…except those making the money. Why would a television network pay big money for a joke of a playoff and WS? Are they desperate? Also, what if two teams, that normally would have no chance, get on a hot streak and end up playing in the WS? Can’t the MLB and MLBPA put there manhood away for a few months and think of the fans or is this just the new “MERICA”.

    • Doug Gray

      Well, they’ll pay for it because people are going to watch it.

      And as for the “hot streak” stuff – it happens all of the time. The St. Louis Cardinals have a World Series championship trophy from a year in which they went 83-79. The Minnesota Twins have one from a season in which their opponents outscored them in the regular season. The best teams don’t always win. Heck, you could argue that they lose in the playoffs more often than they win. It’s the nature of the beast, so to speak.

      • Linkster

        Well, I will just have to disagree with you on this one Doug. At least you will have something to report on besides labor disputes, Covid19 and simulation games.

  9. Hotto4Votto

    A 50 game season would not be legitimate season in my mind. Too small a sample size for so much risk by the players both from injury and COVID19 exposure. Why take on those risks for such a small percentage of their contract? It would also have a huge effect on arbitration cases due to sample size of the season (setting up both positive and negative seasons). IMO you gotta try to play at least half the season to matter.

  10. TR

    A 50 game season? A winning streak from the git go would be a necessity for the Reds to break the 30 year WS drought, or else it’s wait till next year.

    • Linkster

      It will be more like wait until next year. 50 games will not be a legit WS, if it happens. Who wants a WS title with a “HUGE” asterisk beside it?

    • Stock

      history says otherwise Linkster. In 1981 the Reds had the best record in baseball (66-42) but did not make the playoffs. A strike occurred midseason and the first half division winner played the 2nd half division winner. The team with the best record in all of baseball that year watched the playoffs on TV. The Cardinals had the second best record in the NL and also watched the playoffs on TV.

      No one ever discounts that world championship

  11. Doug Gray

    The difference is, the 50-game thing isn’t a proposal. Manfred has the authority to say it’s happening and the players union basically has two options: Play or strike. It’s not a negotiation – the players basically gave him that power in the deal in March.

    • Doug Gray

      I believe the owners would need more than 8 owners to say no in a vote in order to prevent it.

    • Colorado Red

      Any player can opt out for covid fears.
      If all the stars do, who will watch the games.

      The goose that laid golden egg is almost dead.

  12. Stock

    The start of baseball has been delayed 3 times with games not made up.


    Maybe this is good to delay the start of the season. I don’t know if Oldtimer is on this site but if he is maybe he can tell us how the Reds did these three seasons.

  13. Dick Paterson

    Baseball has been moving in the direction of a tournament at the end of the season over the last several decades, all driven by $$$$. “Integrity of the game” is no longer an understandable concept. As greedy players and greedier owners fight out the economics, fans don’t have a seat at the table. Stop fussing and play ball.

  14. Colorado Red

    Saw an analysis based of Forbes estimates.
    An 82 game season, the owner will lose about 160 mil between them.
    Seems like they want the same profit as every other year.
    Open the books, and then we might believe you.

    • Stock

      Why the need to open the books? Aren’t they pretty much open for 2020? Aren’t the television contracts public knowledge? Aren’t the player salaries public knowledge? Can’t we estimate front office employees and their salaries? Aren’t the signing bonus’ for the 5/6 draft picks known? My guess is Forbes estimate is pretty close.

      • Doug Gray

        Not all television contracts are public knowledge, no. And we also don’t know how much money 19 of the 30 teams are making for their ownership stakes in the companies that pay them those television contracts, either. Of course “that’s not baseball revenue” as they want you to believe. We also don’t know how much their real estate is losing/making, and whether or not they are using that as “lost baseball revenue” right now or not. And that’s part of the problem – are the owners claiming they’ll lose money playing games because they owe $87M this year on their $500M real estate development? Or are the owners claiming that they’ll lose money simply by paying baseball employees this year (and the electric bill to keep the lights running)? Without opening the books, we don’t know those answers. The players shouldn’t be giving up money because the owners real estate investments in the ballpark village isn’t working out right now.

  15. Amarillo

    @Klugo to answer your earlier question.

    Not only does the Commissioner side with the owners, he is paid specifically to be the mouthpiece for the owners. His job is more or less to take on the anger of the public so it isn’t directed at the owners. Anytime someone says “Manfred hates baseball” or “Manfred is ruining the game” is basically incorrect, because he only presents the owner’s ideas. He has very little of his own input.